Many legacy RFID systems operate with vendor-specific proprietary protocols. Later, parts of those protocols have found their way into international standards. Some of the proprietary systems (like the Philips MIFARE system) are based on international standards, but have mandatory undocumented proprietary additions.
Such proprietary systems usually result in vendor lock-in; in other words, you have to purchase readers and tags from the same vendor, and a single vendor controls pricing and availability. Whereas the classic examples of proprietary RFID chip design come from Philips, MIFARE, and Legic, due to their historical influence in the development of RFID, more and more commercial companies are coming to market every year with their own designs.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) specifies most of the openly documented RFID standards. These standards ensure that the standard-adhering equipment from one vendor will interoperate with equipment from other vendors. Some interoperability problems remain due to regulatory compliance: Although the readers may use the same protocol, the same frequency may not be used in China as is used in New Zealand or the U.S.
A list of ISO standards for RFID follows:
• ISO 11784, ISO 11785 Technical radio frequency identification of animals— code and command structure
• ISO 14223/1 Radio frequency identification of animals—air interface
• ISO 10374 Container identification
• ISO 10536 Close coupling integrated circuit cards
• ISO 14443 Proximity integrated circuit ID cards
• ISO 15693 Vicinity integrated circuit ID cards
• ISO 18000 RFID for item management
EPC Global, Inc. (EPC stands for Electronic Product Code) is a vendor forum that specifies RFID protocols and data formats for RFID systems for product identification. Some EPC specifications are based on ISO, e.g., ISO 15693, whereas others have actually been pushed from EPC into the ISO process and are now released as ISO 18000 (Type C). EPC focuses on barcode replacement but can also be used in other environments.
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