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Deputy News Editor

IAnywhere puts more brains in RFID readers

Jan 30, 20063 mins
Network SecurityRFID

IAnywhere Solutions has released software that manufacturers can embed in their radio frequency identification readers to make them smarter, the company announced Monday.

RFID Anywhere Appliance Edition includes support for several communications protocols including TCP/IP, HTTP and the EPC Reader protocol. It also adds security functions, software for configuring the readers remotely from a Web browser and an API for executing business logic on the reader itself, the company says.

Most makers of RFID readers use their own software in their devices. IAnywhere, a subsidiary of Sybase, says it hopes manufacturers will license its software as a way to increase the capabilities in their readers. It also announced its first customer on Monday, Applied Wireless Identifications (AWID), which will offer the embedded software in a line of its RFID readers.

IAnywhere began making a play for the RFID market last year with RFID Anywhere, a middleware platform for collecting and managing RFID data. The embedded software works independently of that product, so it will work with back-end platforms from other vendors such as ConnecTerra, which was recently acquired by BEA Systems.

“It’s totally decoupled from the RFID Anywhere offering,” according to Martyn Mallick, iAnywhere director of product management. The company sees the embedded software as a business in its own right, he says, although iAnywhere also hopes to sell customers on its middleware platform.

Other software vendors have also announced products for managing RFID data, including IBM and Oracle, and tackling the devices themselves provides a way for iAnywhere to differentiate itself, said Alys Woodward, a senior analyst with U.K. analyst company Ovum.

Still, more intelligent-reader software is not what’s needed at the moment to drive the RFID market forward, according to Forrester Research analyst Ellen Daley. AWID is a small player in the reader market, she says, and it’s unclear whether bigger manufacturers will be interested in iAnywhere’s embedded software.

“I’m not sure what the incentive would be to embed this software. Why not just wait for some open source, standard software to come out if that’s a challenge they are facing?” she asks.

“AWID’s whole sell is good functionality at a low price,” she adds. “That’s a nice play to have, but I don’t believe companies are making decisions with RFID right now based on low cost, the area is too new. They want a big partner, like a systems integrator, who can build an RFID ecosystem and share the risk with them.”

AWID says iAnywhere’s software will bring added capabilities to its readers, which it will sell from the same price even with the embedded software included, says AWID Vice President Louis Sirico.

“Most significant is the number of standard interfaces you can use to access the features of the reader,” he says. They include ALE (Application Level Events) and SAP AG’s AII (Auto-ID Infrastructure) specification, which will allow the AWID readers to plug directly into the software vendor’s business applications without additional middleware, according to Sirico.

He also points to ease of configuration and the ability to do “reader coordination at the frequency-hopping level, so if you have a number of readers close together they can talk simultaneously but they don’t talk over each other, boosting performance.”

“For us it’s a significant differentiator, a significant advantage,” Sirico says.

IAnywhere’s announcement was made at the Global RFID ROI Summit in London, which runs Monday and Tuesday.