Open source RFID

Free tag and EPC data management software is in its infancy, but looks promising

If there's one area of the IT industry that's gotten as much buzz as open source itself during the past year, it's RFID. So far, however, it's been a big-ticket item, with its strongest backing coming from megaretailers such as Wal-Mart. Companies have had to rely on expensive commercial packages to get the ball rolling in their own businesses, but that could be set to change. Founded by two Canadian entrepreneurs, the RadioActive Foundation aims to develop a suite of open source RFID applications that support EPC (Electronic Product Code) and other standards from the EPCGlobal Network.

Its first project is Fusion, a middleware layer for managing and gathering data from tags and sensor readers before delivering that data to enterprise information systems. Other planned projects include Neutrino, a set of tools for exchanging EPC data between business partners; and Graviton, a driver-based simulator for RFID hardware from various manufacturers. All the RadioActive Foundation projects are for release under the Apache license.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, that's all we know. The RadioActive Foundation lists all its projects as being in the planning phase, so it seems likely that it will be some time before any actual code begins to appear. The Foundation encourages interested parties to get involved by joining its nascent Open Source RFID Consortium, which it hopes will spur interest and speed development of related software. Whether that actually happens, or whether the project fizzles out, remains to be seen.

Still, there's no denying that interest in RFID technology is only going to continue to grow, particularly as smaller businesses begin to get in on the act.