VeriSign Inc is hoping to drive adoption of radio frequency identifier technology and the EPC product identification system with the launch this week of a test network and developer program.
The company has recruited major developer tools makers including IBM, Microsoft, Sun, BEA and SAP, and some smaller players, to support its EPC Application Developers Program, which is free to developers.
The program includes implementation guides, sample code, and documented APIs based on SOAP and other web services standards. A new EPC Starter Service, a test network for these applications, is also now available.
We’re seeing some barriers to full adoption in the marketplace. Cost is seen as a barrier, as is the lack of killer applications, said Brian Matthews, VeriSign’s VP of directory services. It’s analogous to the internet before 1995.
Matthews said that companies considering rolling out RFID systems may find the cost of infrastructure and the fact that the standards have not been finalized a problem. The new service, he said, lets them test applications without having to spend on infrastructure.
The announcements came at the EPCglobal Fall Conference 2004 in Baltimore yesterday, where companies gathered to discuss RFID and EPC, Electronic Product Code, which when used with RFID is expected to revolutionize supply chain management.
VeriSign was selected in January by EPCglobal Inc to run the official Object Name Service root. EPC is an evolution of the ubiquitous barcode capable of addressing products by their individual units rather than just by type.
Analogous to the internet’s domain name system roots, VeriSign’s ONS root contains pointers to directories of product information managed by manufacturers. The Starter Service will be equivalent to outsourcing DNS rather than hosting locally.
Matthews said that the starter services are designed for pilot programs only. Additional redundancy and security will be built into it as standards are finalized and there are commercial EPC-based services launched.
Customers can ensure that our offering in the network will continue to evolve in line with the standards, Matthews said. Currently, the network has been deployed to six of VeriSign’s data centers.