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RFID Calling Web Services

Manhattan Associates and Alien Technology introduced RFID in a Box built on Microsoft's .NET platform, the companies said Tuesday.

The product complies with the Electronic Product Code (EPC) standard for describing objects in the supply chain that's being developed by EPCglobal.

RFID in a Box combines Manhattan Associates' RFID integration software and components of its Integrated Logistics Solution with Alien Technology's reader hardware, which is built on Microsoft's Windows CE device platform. The companies said that customers could build custom applications for RFID in a Box using the Windows CE toolkit. The pre-configured product includes servers, Alien Technology RFID readers and tags, and electronic product code printers. Using the software, customers can generate tags within the company or at remote suppliers.

Atlanta, Ga.-based Manhattan Associates sells supply chain execution and optimization software for warehousing, transportation, distributed order management, reverse logistics and trading partner management, as well as RFID. Morgan Hill, Calif.-based Alien Technology manufactures RFID tags and readers.

The Windows CE platform has built-in Web services for networking and communications, to let customers more easily integrate RFID data with corporate information systems. Independent software vendors and customers can use Microsoft's SQL Server and BizTalk Server to manage and integrate RFID data, while Visual Studio and Web Services Enhancements (WSE) for Visual Studio tools lets them build Web services-enabled RFID applications.

"When suppliers begin installing thousands of readers, easy, rapid deployment and IT integration will become a dominant consideration," Stav Prodromou, CEO of Alien Technology, said in a statement. "The built-in services in Windows CE provide a solid basis for delivering a security-enhanced and manageable reader infrastructure on such a scale."

Neither Alien Technologies nor Manhattan Associates executives responded to requests for interviews.

Microsoft, Manhattan Associates and Alien plan to open RFID testing labs in Atlanta, Ga., Redmond, Wash and San Jose, Calif., as well as in Europe to showcase RFID in a Box.