RFID Software Explained Part 1: Device Management
There is a lot of confusion among end users regarding RFID software. It is often called RFID middleware, but that is a legacy term that speaks to only a subset of features and tends to obscure rather than explain RFID. RFID software features in the market today range from device management to full business workflow applications that leverage RFID capabilities to enable new processes.
What is RFID Software?
Today people know RFID software is any additional software installed during implementation of RFID solutions. There are many existing applications that have added features to connect to RFID devices, but we will leave that for another discussion. The areas we want to discuss here and in RFID Software Explained - Part 2 are the primary layers of RFID software: Device Management and Business Applications.
RFID Device Management Software Break-down
At ODIN, we break RFID Device management software into three components:
- Device Control
- Edge Services
RFID Device Control reflects the ability to set configurations, smooth data, change firmware, turn the device on or off, and similar functions. These are essential features to enable accurate tag data capture. The level of integration and robustness of the feature set will often determine how much control you have and how accurate you can make the overall solution.
RFID Integration connects the RFID software downstream to the reader and upstream to business applications. When done properly, it provides a common interface of readers to other software systems such as the business applications. Buyer beware. Not all integration capabilities are created equal. Many RFID software providers and other applications that claim to “connect” to RFID readers only execute minimal integration. These systems may be able to collect data from the reader, but not provide additional control capabilities because the integration is too shallow. The more control, accuracy or edge services your use case requires, the more important integration will be.
RFID Edge Services can range from the basic to exotic. These are features that may be required to execute a business process, but don’t have a logical home within a central enterprise application such as ERP due to the nature of the command or latency issues. For example, you may need to control an I/O device such as a light stack or take an input from a motion sensor to activate a reader. On a more exotic level you may need to filter out stray reads, determine directionality or even enable hot swapping of a replacement reader. These are all services that are beyond the core RFID functionality, but still required to enable a complete RFID solution.
Can I conduct RFID Device Management from my existing enterprise software applications?
Typically not. These features are specific to RFID and do not have a logical home in existing applications. To add device control features to existing software applications often requires an understanding of both the reader integration API as well as the low level firmware controls. RFID software treats these as core features where they are more commonly custom coded hacks when included in business applications such as warehouse or asset management systems.
To learn more about RFID Device Management Software and an common operating system for RFID devices click on the link.
Next up: The Business Application side of RFID Software
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