RealTime IT News

Making RFID Devices More Mindful

Sun Microsystems expanded its RFID offerings with the Sun Java System RFID Software for Java-enabled RFID devices. The software is designed to help RFID readers and appliances process information directly rather than relying on middleware, Sun said.

Enable the devices for more filtering and processing, goes the idea, and you reduce the load on the network and thereby the number of network components needed for the devices.

"The [RFID tag] readers are getting smarter and they're likely to have Java on them," said Vijay Sarathy, group marketing manager for Sun's RFID division. "Why not have some of the middleware run on the devices themselves?"

The advantage of doing so, he said, would be that only higher-level business information could be passed up through the network.

The software supports the EPCglobal application level events (ALE) specification for data processing and filtering. ALE is a specification that allows for the sharing of RFID information among applications, so that more than one application can take advantage of the information collected by a reader.

The software is available now for Java SE (formerly Java 2 Standard Edition), and a version for Java ME (formerly Java 2 Micro Edition) is due in July.

In April, Sun released Sun Java System RFID Software 2.0, middleware with a Web-based management console. The update to the original version, released last July, was designed to extend the software for uses beyond the supply-chain tracking of goods. This new release integrates with that management console.

Sun reported that its Java technology already is installed on more than two billion embedded devices, a 14 percent increase since last June. But RFID readers are a whole new market.

Sun already has one partner, SIS Technologies, which Java-enabled its RFID reader/writer. Sarathy said Sun hopes to move Java further toward the edge of the network to run on sensors. Using Java in RFID appliances could open application development to all the existing Java programmers.

"The issue with sensors is there are a lot of esoteric platforms. If we can put Java on those sensors, then you provide a platform that the average Java programmer understands," Sarathy said. "So you have a larger developer base with the ability to develop new kinds of applications."