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ITU Workshop to Support Standardization of RFID Technology

New York, Feb 10, 2006

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is quickly expanding to become an essential tool for industry in the global economy. Enabling the transmission of data through tiny portable devices known as “tags” or “transponders,” RFID applications contain uniquely encoded digital memory chips that can be implanted into a product, animal, or person to provide identification, location, or other detailed information. Regularly used for electronic toll collection and to track library books, airline luggage, and pets, advancements in RFID technology are expected to revolutionize the industry of mobile telecommunications.

The number and breadth of emerging RFID telecommunications applications have highlighted the demand for globally accepted, interoperable standards of the technology. The need to identify standards that will support this growing industry will be the focus of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) workshop, Networked RFID: Systems and Services. Open to all professionals involved in RFID technology and standards facilitation, the event will take place February 14-15, 2006, at the ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The goal of the workshop is to provide a platform for participants to review current and future RFID applications, and to begin work on a standardization framework that will support compatibility and interoperability between different manufacturers and applications.

The next generation of the communications industry has been spurred by the integration of RFID applications into mobile phones. Equipped with RFID readers, mobile phones can be used to retrieve information and services from tagged items. The application of near field communication (NFC) technology allows for the short range communication between RFID integrated mobile phones and other devices, and is currently being used to enable “wallet phones”—mobile devices that can be used to make purchases at shops, vending machines, and ticket terminal kiosks. RFID enabled mobile applications may benefit consumers and business alike: future possibilities include the use of phones to perform price comparisons in supermarkets and malls, and the ability to download a free preview from a movie poster equipped with an RFID tag.

It is expected that RFID enabled mobile devices will ultimately lead to the realization of the “ubiquitous network society.” Relying on the use of small mobile devices, ubiquitous information and communication technologies (ubiquitous ICTs) will allow users to access and exchange information at any time, from any place. Embedded with RFID tags with information processing capabilities, products termed “smart things” or “digital artifacts,” will be able to collect data from their environment, make decisions, and act on a decentralized basis. Since the tasks that ubiquitous ICTs will be programmed to perform depend upon the geographical location of other devices, mobile devices are the ideal mechanism to support the ad hoc detection of and connection to a temporary network.

Topics of discussion at the ITU workshop will include concerns raised by RFID and ubiquitous ICTs such as interoperability, privacy and security issues, the impact of RFID on fixed and mobile networks, and the integration of RFID technologies into existing networking environments. The workshop will build upon previous efforts to standardize RFID applications, and existing standards will be reviewed for sustainability.

The ITU was founded on the principle of cooperation between governments and the private sector. Responsible for the standardization, coordination, and development of international telecommunication, ITU organizes regional and international forums to foster the interconnection of telecommunications systems on a worldwide scale.

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