RFID today has numerous applications in various market sectors, from government agencies to manufacturing, from the food logistics to document management. The promise offered by this technology is to expedite and streamline the business process management and industrial.
RFID technology consists of Tags, readers (antennas) and a series of applications that track, monitor, report and manage the handling of goods from one physical location to another. These scenarios require normally very sophisticated software architectures that must be able to collect and organize information in real time. Everything is based on recognition of tags that are able to provide a unique identification number called EPC (Electronic Product Code), and other useful information to locate the physical location of goods or equipment.
As I said, an RFID system is based mainly from two actors: the tags and the antenna. Tags can be active and therefore self powered (see Picture 1), or passive (see Picture 2), cheaper and smaller but needing to be fed from the player itself.
Also, the antenna can be of two types, mainly HF low power (see Picture 3) that requires a very close read, TAG or UHF which performs readings even from a distance of several meters (see Picture 4).
The main problem in the RFID field is the diversity of communication protocol level offered by various readers, hardware; there are several solutions on the market, most are proprietary, for example developed by hardware vendors.
Around RFID Microsoft offers an extremely interesting and decisive solution, Microsoft RFID platform.
This platform comes along with another platform: BizTalk Server.
BizTalk RFID is a really tested and powerful solution, It exist from more than five years, at the moment It is at version 2010 and we are waiting for the release of version 2010 R2 that can offer a very interesting new features, many of these around mobile aspects and EPC evolution.
The principle on which is based the Microsoft RFID platform is definitely revolutionary: it offers the total abstraction of the hardware to the software platform which provides infinitely more possibilities compared to custom solutions, in terms of timing of solution implementation, management and flexibility and one of the most focus of Microsoft during these years was mobile aspects.
The Figure 5 can clarify the concept. Everything starts from the lowest layer, the Device Service Provider Interface (DSPI), through which you can expose components.Net, normally supplied by the hardware manufacturer of antennas (the reader), able to communicate with the reader.
The antennas are represented by device and managed or grouped by Device Manager; using these device tags are sent to a processing queue, the Event Processing Engine, which allows us to organize the processing of Tags through components.Net already provided by the platform or simply developed by us. In this way the abstraction from the hardware is so significant that we can develop a complete RFID solution without worrying about which hardware will later use. The RFID platform is accompanied by BizTalk Server that provides an infrastructure for the development of solutions based on business process management and System Integration.
Stay tuned for a RFID deep dive