Archive for January, 2010

RFID industry needs to react to privacy and security issues

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

As legislation limiting the use of RFID heats up on the state level, it’s time to ramp up educational efforts and for somebody to take the lead in the fight to limit the misinformation floating around regarding privacy and security issues. Proposed legislation filed in New Hampshire and Rhode Island this month call to curb the use of RFID in those states.

It should be noted that the legislation will likely be struck down in both states, but not without a lot of time and effort put in by industry execs and lobbyists. However, the need to educate legislators has never been greater. Look at the New Hampshire bill, for example. In fine print buried near the end of the proposal, the bill incredulously calls for companies using the technology to provide frequency and data structure information to the public. What? Let’s just invite potential mis-users of the technology to hack in by providing them with the technical specifications. Maybe buy them an RFID reader at the same time!

“It really just doesn’t make sense,” says Kathleen Carroll, director of government relations at HID Global and also a certified information privacy professional who will spend time in the upcoming weeks educating New Hampshire lawmakers to help them better understand the technology. “My mission in life is to rile up the RFID industry to take this issue seriously and be pro-active about it. Let’s talk to the media about what we are doing to protect privacy.”

It’s time for an industry group or an alliance of manufacturers to stand up and take privacy concerns seriously, including devising a plan to educate the public. One misstep could set the industry back years. What do you think?

More RFID privacy concerns surface in Rhode Island

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

There must be something in the water in New England. After New Hampshire passed a bill limiting the use of RFID earlier this month, now there is a proposal to restrict the use of RFID in Rhode Island.

Following New Hampshire’s bid to limit the use of RFID in that state (the N.H. Senate still needs to rule on the bill and will likely reject it), the Rhode Island General Assembly overturned its Governor’s veto on Monday and approved a series of bills designed to protect civil liberties issues, including one that restricts the use of RFID at public schools. The bill also is also designed to protect the privacy of drivers who use the state’s E-ZPass toll system.

Some of this RFID legislation is getting a bit ridiculous. The Rhode Island situation appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to a 2008 bid by the Middletown school district in Rhode Island to use RFID tags on students back packs in an attempt to verify that elementary school students boarded the right school bus. RFID, if explained thoughtfully and in a well-educated manner to parents, is a natural for that type of application.

In this case, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri actually gets it — when he vetoed the legislation in November, Carcieri noted that RFID could be help track students during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. And he’s right. After all, would you rather have an RFID tag prevent your child from getting off a bus at the wrong location, or hear yet another story about a kid who was mistakenly left on the bus unattended for several hours at the end of the bus route?

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      Airbus to embed high memory tags on its A350 fleet starting next year

      Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

      The aerospace industry has long been a pioneer when it comes to RFID research. Today, a pact between Airbus, MAINtag SAS and Tego will take that innovation to a new level. By early next year, thousands of Tego’s high memory tags will find their way onto aircraft parts across the Airbus A350 XWB fleet. Approximately 1,500 tags will be included on each aircraft, with the possibility of many more in the future. The seven-year contract is expected to be worth a minimum of $5 million for Tego.

      The combination of MAINtag’s manufacturing capabilities and Tego’s high-memory chip provides the first standards-compliant, high memory and fully-passive RFID tags that can achieve Airbus’ goal of value chain visibility. The technology will allow Airbus to include a PDF of a product manual on the tag, as well as the complete cradle to grave maintenance history of aircraft parts, allowing for new cutting edge MRO applications.

      The deal represents a significant breakthrough for high memory tags that Airbus and the aviation industry has coveted for years, and could take asset tracking to new levels in other industries.

      “This is the first coming out party for the industry,” says Tim Butler, president and CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based Tego, which has been working on a high memory tag solution for several years. “Airbus has invested significant money in this space over the past several years and has been waiting for the ability to use high memory passive RFID tags on both pressurized and non-pressurized parts. We are excited to work with MAINtag to deliver the first flyable parts RFID tags that will allow Airbus and its suppliers to get RFID in the air quickly.”

      To read the rest of this story, visit RFID24-7.com.

      Major announcements on tap in RFID sector

      Friday, January 15th, 2010

      This year could prove to be a breakout year for RFID technology. Over the next few weeks, look for major announcements from key players regarding significant contract wins and new products. One big contract will be announced on Tuesday. RFID 24-7 has learned of at least three other deals of significant scope that will follow over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to rfid247.com for coverage and analysis as the deals unfold.

      RFID in the NFL?

      Thursday, January 14th, 2010

      During last year’s Super Bowl, I posted about how the NFL could benefit from using RFID technology during games. RFID could remove the human element from such things as “moving the chains” to determine first downs. The NFL hasn’t done anything yet, but their game announcers must read RFID 24-7. During the Patriots playoff loss to Baltimore Sunday (what happened to Tom Brady?), Ravens running back Ray Rice was stopped at the goal line, prompting a lengthy review to see if his forward progress was enough to get him into the endzone. While it clearly looked like Rice crossed the line, the ball was not in view for the replay, so game officials ruled no TD. That prompted Jim Nantz to utter a line about “implanting chips into the footballs.” He gets it! Of course an RFID-enabled football, with RFID readers along the goal line, could have easily determined the outcome on that play.