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Center for Automatic Identification set to share new technologies

ATHENS, Ohio (July 21, 2004) -- ­To say that Ohio University's Center for Automatic Identification is a well-kept secret is an understatement. The center, which is part of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and headed by director and founder Jim Fales and Managing Director Bruce Philpot, was the nation's first university-based research center devoted to the study of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC).

The center will host the 18th annual Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) Technical Institute, July 25-30, at the Russ College on the Ohio University campus. The purpose of the institute is to allow professors and business professionals an opportunity to learn more about AIDC technologies. The event will educate participants about bar codes, data carriers and structures, radio frequency identification (RFID), biometrics, industry applications, data communications and NASA technology just to name a few. More than 80 participants from disciplines such as healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, merchandising, business and engineering are expected to attend the annual conference.

One of the hot new technologies that will be discussed is RFID, an automatic identification tagging technology for suppliers and customers to quickly identify the contents of shipments throughout the supply chain. Bruce Philpot, managing director of the Center for Automatic Identification says RFID is gaining popularity and has already been adopted by many companies, including retail giants Wal-Mart and Target.

"Wal-Mart is asking its top 100 suppliers to adopt the emerging technology of RFID." says Industrial Technology Assistant Professor and Auto Id Researcher Todd Myers. "There are some significant front-end costs that come with adopting the new technology, but Wal-Mart knows that implementing RFID will pay for itself in savings in the long run."

Philpot agrees RFID would have a major impact on the distribution cycle at retail stores like Wal-Mart and Target.

"Instead of going to these stores and finding out the item you are looking for is not on the shelf, with the help of RFID that will happen less frequently because stores will be able to process shipments rapidly," Philpot said. "Often stores have the items you are looking for but they are sitting in the shipping crate in the back room waiting to be processed. Companies lose business when this happens, so RFID technology will allow them to scan the shipment immediately into the system without opening it and know exactly what is in the shipment and whether it has been tampered with, which obviously helps with supply chain integrity."

Philpot also notes that the RFID technology at Wal-Mart, Target and other major users will be implemented at the logistics levels – shipping containers and pallets – before it is introduced at the item level.

Another up-and-coming technology is biometrics, which uses biological properties to identify individuals. Examples are fingerprints, a retina scan and voice recognition. It was used at the 2002 Super Bowl and other security conscious events to identify people who are wanted by law enforcement agencies. A couple of future uses could be at airports and worksites.

"I tell our students that they will probably be subjected to biometrics just to get into their workplace before their career is over," Philpot says. "It is the only technology that validates a person's identity and makes sure that they are who they say they are."

"Much of the center's teaching efforts have been in the areas of bar coding, which is constantly evolving, and RFID technology," says Philpot. "This technical institute will not only contain lectures about the technologies, but also provide many hands-on lab experiences which will allow participants to learn by doing. Our goal is to educate and equip teachers with enough knowledge that they can share it with their students and to educate the business people enough where they can implement these technologies in their day-to-day business operations."

For more information about the Center for Automatic Identification, visit www.ohio.edu/aidc/.  

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Media Contacts: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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