Allan Griebenow is the President and CEO of AXCESS International.
Your company’s decision to license Java was covered by a number of news sources as Sun’s entry into active RFID. Is this the case?
We have been working with the people at the Sun RFID Innovations Center for some time prior to this release regarding active RFID technology. In an effort to offer their customers a more diverse range of solutions, Sun asked us to define our approach on several RFID applications where passive technology did not really fit the bill. Our common interests evolved from there, culminating in our decision to work more closely with Sun as a business partner.
If so, what does your company bring to the partnership?
AXCESS International has leveraged over a decade of extensive experience in the design, marketing and installation of Active RFID products to build a deep knowledge base in active RFID technology. Our track record of successes across myriad sectors demonstrates that AXCESS brings unique developmental and implementation capabilities of active RFID into the real world. AXCESS brings to Sun unique active RFID technologies – such as dual frequency active tags that can “beacon” and/or “wake up” in an activation field, control point architecture and a large family of tags with forms and functions that handle a variety of applications, software & hardware expertise as well as a strong patent base.
Microsoft has a number of RFID solutions in development. Though slow to the mark, the company has a reputation for dominating business platforms. Do you anticipate complications as Microsoft and .NET gain traction in the industry?
We have actually run on MS platforms for many years. In addition, Sun recently announced complete support for MS platforms with their new low-cost Galaxy servers. Our goal is to be positioned to run on the platform of choice for our customers, given our strong & diverse knowledge base and our proven track record of successful products, across many different sectors and technology, all that will help improve our customers’ business efficiency.
AXCESS’ products offer capabilities well beyond the passive tag systems that the RFID News audience might be most familiar with. Could you describe an inventory tracking situation where active tags are a better solution than their passive cousins?
The issue with inventory tracking (as it relates to Active vs. Passive) is one of cost tradeoffs. For high-value items, ones that need an element of security within the RFID system as they are moved throughout the supply chain, active RFID provides a clear advantage over passive tags that rely on the power of a reader to generate an ID transmission. For example, if a pharmaceutical manufacturer wants to know if a tote or other shipping appliance was opened or tampered with between Singapore and Long Beach, an active tag has the ability to use its own power to beacon an alert when the package reaches its destination, while passive tags do not. The same applies to laptop computers in an enterprise. While the initial cost may be higher, the ability of active tags to be re-used for years helps to mitigate that cost.
In some situations the two technologies are complimentary – how will AXCESS’ offerings augment passive RFID solutions?
We are seeing customers with greater frequency developing a use for both technologies within their RFID solution. For example, many customers have the need to tag very large numbers of items with passive tags (for cost or footprint reasons) but require the reliability of our active tag reads at the dock door or for security reasons on the tote/container. Usually the items would then be tagged with passive tags and the containers tagged with our active tags. The passive tags in the container are then linked to the active tag on the container in the database. Typically, we work with the customer to help define their needs and then bring in the proper AXCESS partner to integrate an Active-Passive solution for them. We have several partners that we work with to accomplish this.
Would you say Sun’s RFID solutions are proprietary? What are some of the advantages your customers stand to gain by implementing a Java based system?
I would say they are proprietary, and they hold a significant installed base of server platforms in the market place. In addition, the inexpensive and straightforward access to Sun’s middle-ware solutions, as well as their support of Windows, will further reduce any negatives that the proprietary connotation might invoke. The bottom line is the customer gets to run their application on the architecture of their choice.
What is the advantage of having Java embedded in a reader over a Java interface?
Running standards-based embedded Java would be an advantage for some people that may want to modify the feature or functions of an RFID reader. The biggest advantage in this case would be the ability to use industry standard software tools.