Loss of a Great Man – Alan Haberman

Alan Haberman's first claim to fame should be that he was instrumental in bringing bar code scanning to our lives. Although he did not invent bar codes, he lead the charge to get the U.P.C. symbol accepted by everyone and was part of the movement that has made bar code scanning in retail a part of our everyday life. Alan was president of Hills-Korvette Supermarkets and then the CEO of First National Supermarkets and in the early 1970s he became the chairman of an executive committee in the Uniform Code Council (now GS1) to select a standard symbol. The committee reviewed more than a dozen symbols and eventually chose what we recognize today. The first time the bar code was used in areal system was on June 26, 1974 when a pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit was purchased and scanned at Marsh Supermarket in Troy OH. That package is currently in the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History.

Alan was a founder member of the UCC and he became a member of the Board of Governors. His work did not stop with bar codes and he was one of the first people to recognize the importance of RFID. He led an investigation for a University to help solve some of the problems with RFID. He setup an alliance with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and funded the Auto-ID Labs to investigate the creation of a system for retail use of RFID. This later became EPCglobal and the Electronic Product Code (EPC) system was created.Alan in Edinburgh

In 1996 talks were started with an intent to create a home in ISO for AIDC standards. The Uniform Code Council was chosen to be the Secretariat for this international work and Alan was chosen to be the first chairman of the committee. He retained that position for the next nine years, leading the standardization efforts with a force that everyone rallied around. He was well respected in the position and even when some health issues put him on the sidelines for a while, he continued to drive everyone forward from his home office.

I first met Alan Haberman when he was chosen to be the first chairman of ISO/IEC SC 31. He became a great friend and a mentor to me and several others. His straightforward way of doing business didn't always make him the most popular guy in town, but his knowledge and management skills always won through. Alan's interest in the technologies did not stop when he passed on the chairmanship of the committee. He continued to call many of us with questions and ideas. He even acted as a confidant for many of us as we tried to resolve issues.

Alan passed away on Sunday (12 June, 2011) at age 81, he will be missed by many of us. Rest in Peace, Alan.


RFID Standards Progress

I was in Atlanta a few weeks ago week for a couple of standards events.

First, there was a meeting of ANSI MH10.8.  It is a subgroup of the MH10 group whose scope is: "To facilitate freight movement within transportation and distribution systems by providing standards for transport-packages and unit-loads, including their dimensions, definitions, terminology, coding, labeling, and performance criteria; and to represent the United States' interests within the scope of ISO/TC 122".

The MH10.8 subgroup is responsible for "Coding & Labeling of Unit-Loads". This means bar codes for a lot of the work, but there is an increasing amount of RFID in there. The most well-known standard from MH 10.8 is ANSI MH10.8.2 "Data & Application Identifiers" but the group is responsible for many standards, you can see a full list at below. The meeting in Atlanta spent time reviewing the .1, .7, .12 and .13 documents.

  • MH10.8.1:2006 – Shipping Label Standard
  • MH10.8.2:CM – Data & Application identifier standard
  • MH10.8.3:2002 – Syntax for High Capacity ADC Media
  • MH10.8.4:2002 – RFID Tags for Returnable Containers
  • MH10.8.5 – Retired
  • MH10.8.6:2003 – Product Packaging standard
  • MH10.8.7:2005 – Product Marking standard
  • MH10.8.8:2006 – RFID for Parcels, Packages and Flat Mail
  • MH10.8.9 – Product ID using other than optically readable media
  • MH10.8.10 – RFID for Product Packaging
  • MH10.8.11 – Unit loads and transport packages for North American border crossings
  • MH10.8.12 – Component Marking Standard
  • MH10.8.13 – Label Test Procedures for Bar Code and Two-Dimensional (2D) Label
  • MH10.8.14 – Unique Digital Identifier
  • MH10.8.15 – XML Reader Output from ISO/IEC 15434 formatted AIDC Media

The Data Identifiers standards details the various Data Identifiers that you may use in the numbering of a package to better explain the content of the package. The abstract of the standard says: "This standard provides a comprehensive dictionary of MH 10/SC 8 Data Identifiers and GS1 Application Identifiers, provides for the assignment of new Data Identifiers, as required, and provides a document detailing the correlation, or mapping, of Data Identifiers to Application Identifiers, where a correlation exists."


The second meeting this week was the US TAG to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31. The US TAG (AIDC 1) is responsible for creating the US positions and responding to ballots that are posted related to the work of SC 31. This means that almost every standard related to AIDC is reviewed by this group and the US opinion is developed and posted to the international community. For the latest work in SC 31 you can visit http://www.understandrfidstandards.com/isoiec-jtc-1sc-31/ . This web site keeps an updated list of all the RFID related work in the committee.

The big items in RF at the moment include a rework of the ISO/IEC 18000-6 standard (air interface standard for 860-960 MHz). This standard was published in late 2010 and is 470 pages long. It includes four different air interface standards and also how to include battery and sensor support for some of the air interfaces. The new standard will divide the original one into sub-parts so that you can get all the information for a single air interface in one standard without the confusion of the others.

Part 63 is the new standard for what was referred to as ISO/IEC 18000-6 Type C (also known as the EPC UHF Gen 2 standard). All of the new sub parts of this document are now in the first stage (CD) ballot. The various parts are:

  • 18000-6: The general information that relates to all the sub parts
  • 18000-61: Type A
  • 18000-62: Type B
  • 18000-63: Type C
  • 18000-64: Type D

Other RFID work that is happening in SC 31 at this time includes a re-write of ISO/IEC 18000-7 (active RFID at 433 MHz).

The US TAG reviews every document created by SC 31 and provides input to the work. The annual TAG meeting allows the members to get together to review the work of the TAG as well as review the procedures of the group. This year starts the planning for 2012 when the US will host the Plenary of SC 31.


The final meeting during this week was the AIM RFID Experts Group (REG). This group has identified several work items that they are looking at. The first of these is a methodology to allow the testing of RFID equipment in the healthcare environment. Working with various groups and Universities, the REG is reviewing proposed test procedures for both implantable medical devices (such as pacemakers) and medical devices used in a medical environment.

The second work item is a white paper to describe the best way to implement a numbering system in an RFID tag. The paper will describe the various existing numbering methodologies that exist and recommend ways to get the best system for your project.

ther work items that are just starting include:

  • The use of RFID in explosive environments
  • The use of RFID on material handling equipment

If you want to be involved in any of the above work, or would simply like to receive more detailed information, then contact steve@hightechaid.com


RFID Standards

How important are the standards in RFID to you? This web site keeps you updated on the major changes that are taking place in RFID Standards but is that enough?

If you are involved in RFID then the standards world should be a major part of your focus. The ability to create products that don't just follow the standard but actually lead the standards is a major competitive advantage. This is why you see so many companies either actively participating or subscribing to standards reports that keep them updated on the work of the committee.

There are many ways to get involved in standards. In most countries there are groups working on RFID Standards. In the United States the mirror organization to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31 is the U.S. TAG (Technical Advisory Group) to SC 31 called ADC1.  The TAG is managed by AIM Inc. (http://www.aimglobal.org), and you can get more info on the group by emailing adc1@aimglobal.org for a membership form. Membership gives you the right to participate in all of the work of SC 31. For details of the RFID work see http://www.understandrfidstandards.com/isoiec-jtc-1sc-31/

If you do not want to actively participate in the work, but need to know what is happening, you can take advantage of the reports that are available. High Tech Aid participates in many of the RFID Standards committee.  Steve Halliday Is the convener of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31/WG 4/SG 3 (RFID Air Interface Standards) and is the co-chair of the GS 1 EPCglobal Technical Standards Committee and the Hardware Group. High Tech Aid published monthly reports on the activities of this group and others, and you can subscribe by sending an email to steve@hightechaid.com and asking for more information.

The Internet of Things

So what do you think the Internet of Things is? Does your understanding label it as a bottle of milk talking to your refrigerator? It's a lot more than that, and that is why companies like IBM, Cisco, and GE are involved in a very big way.

Some people call it M2M (Machine to Machine), others are talking about the Ubiquitous Sensor Network. They are all variations of the same thing and standards will play a big part in the creation of the Internet of Things.

I have just returned from Wuxi, China, the cente rof the work being done on the Internet of Things in China. Wuxi New District is a planned community with many companies and organizations already have office space in this area. We visited with several of the companies and saw examples of the work they are doing from Cloud Storage to sensing traffic, to monitoring pollution, to tracking power management. We saw examples of new technology face tracking and identification alongside location technology accurate to 15mm.

The next day we attended a Europe-China conference on the Internet of Things and heard speakers from both China and Europe detail the work they are doing in this arena.

Finally I attended several days of meetings of the CASAGRAS2 project (http://www.iot-casagras.org/) to discuss projects around the world related to the Internet of Things. I learned that a highly successful academic conference had been held in Wuxi a few days before I arrived. That another academic conference and an educational conference will be held this week in Kuala Lumpur. They have over 300 people signed up for these sessions.

The same group of people will be presenting an educational session at the RFID Journal Live pre-conference in April (http://www.rfidjournalevents.com/live/internet.php). Another group of sessions are being finalized in the South American region in early September, and discussions have started for an event in September in the USA.

What does this have to do with RFID Standards?

RFID is without doubt, a key enabler for the Internet of Things. Standards for the air interface, the data protocols, the security, the communications are all a key part of the system. Many of these will already exist, others will need to be written. Many still need to be identified.

Some of the organizations that will be involved include ISO/IEC JTC 1, AIM, as well as several National Standards organizations. If this is something that is important to you, then you need to get involved now. AIM has an initiative for its members (email: iot@aimglobal.org). Contact your National Body to learn more about the work in ISO/IEC.

Steve Halliday
Feb 27, 2011

Standards Update – 4 – February 2011

This month there are a series of ISO RFID standards meetings taking place in Sarasota, FL USA.  The fourth meeting was SC 31/WG 4/SG 1.  This committee is responsible for RFID Data Protocol standards .

This committee has several standards in ballot at this time (ISO/IEC 15961-1, 15962, 24753) and several Comment Resolution Meetings announced for standards that have completed their latest ballot (ISO/IEC 24791-3 and -5).  For more details of how the ISO process works see: http://www.understandrfidstandards.com/how-does-iso-work/

The committee heard several presentations and looked at several areas of work including:

File Management:  As assistance to the work in WG 7 on ISO/IEC 29167, this group has spent considerable time looking at the best way to implement file management in an RFID tag.

Library Systems: The use of RFID in libraries has increased dramatically and ISO 28560 sets a standard for this application. This standard refers to the standards of WG 4/SG 1 and has helped to identify where improvements can be made to the ISO/IEC 15961/2 standards can be made.

ISO/IEC 24791-4: “Software System Infrastructure: Part 4 Application Interface”. This standard was withdrawn some time back, but a demonstration by the Korean National Body of an approach to solve the problems may result in a new work item proposal being submitted.

Steve Halliday
Feb 18, 2011

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