Oracle adds to RFID wares

FRAMINGHAM (04/02/2004) - Oracle Corp. this week unveiled products designed to help companies tackle radio frequency identification (RFID) rollouts.

Dubbed Oracle Sensor-Based Services, the new offerings include an RFID pilot kit and software for checking system compatibility with retailers' RFID specifications. The tools are designed to help users capture, manage, analyze and respond to data collected by remote sensors, such as RFID tags and readers, Oracle says.

RFID is a wireless technology used successfully in applications such as livestock tracking and automobile toll collection. Retailers and consumer goods manufacturers are eyeing RFID as a replacement for barcodes to better track products throughout the supply chain and improve inventory control.

To accelerate adoption, influential buyers - including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Albertsons Inc. and the U.S. Department of Defense - have issued deadlines for their suppliers to begin shipping RFID-tagged pallets and cases. These mandates are driving spending: Research firm IDC predicts RFID spending for the U.S. retail supply chain will grow from US$91.5 million in 2003 to nearly $1.3 billion in 2008.

Oracle's new Compliance Assistance Package is designed to help companies comply with such mandates; it includes a pre-built application bundled with deployment services. The vendor's RFID Pilot Kit includes drivers for RFID readers, reporting capabilities and business intelligence tools.

The products are designed to work with Oracle's 10g database and application server, as well as its 11i E-Business Suite. They are not Oracle's first foray into RFID: In January Oracle said the next version of its Warehouse Management application - due to be released this summer - will include RFID capabilities.

Additionally, Oracle says the next release of its Application Server 10g will integrate with and be able to manage RFID reader devices. The software will capture and filter data from readers and sensors, then pass the filtered data to a common data store for analysis and distribution to business applications, the vendor says.

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