MIT to wind down RFID research centre

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is winding down its involvement with Auto-ID Center, the pioneering radio frequency identification (RFID) research centre, because it says it has largely achieved what it was set-up to do.

The Auto-ID Center was established in 1999 by MIT and a number of industry partners, most notably the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) maker Proctor &Gamble (P&G). Other corporate sponsors include Coca-Cola, Gillette and Wal-Mart.

Collectively, they have poured in about $20 million since it was established.

The purpose of the Auto-ID Center was to conduct research into RFID technology, small tags that do not require batteries, but which instead can be activated and read when they come within range of an RFID reader. The Auto-ID Center has been responsible for the development of a number of common standards for RFID.

Major companies are particularly keen to deploy the technology in warehouses and on retail shop floors as a means of automatically tracking goods, cutting theft and slashing costs in their supply chains.

The activities of the Auto-ID Center will be wound down and the organisation will in future be called Auto-ID Labs, said Kevin Ashton, the executive director of the Auto-ID Center since it was founded and a former P&G executive.

Auto-ID Labs will be funded by royalties from technology licensing agreements. Its RFID standards development work has already been transferred to EPCglobal, a joint venture between the Uniform Code Council and EAN International, the two organisations that currently oversee bar code standards.

“We’re not going away, but the transition to this new organisation is recognition that [RFID] is going live,” he told


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Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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