From 1st November 2003, the controversial Auto-ID Center is moving from a collaborative multi-university research project, to a commercial standards and intellectual property licensing organisation called EPCGlobal Inc.
"The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is ending a four-year collaboration with dozens of blue-chip companies that set out to advance a new frontier of information technology known as radio frequency identification.
The Auto-ID Center, the radio frequency identification (RFID) research group that MIT and its industry partners formed in 1999, is disbanding its current form at the end of the month, MIT said. The center was given the task of developing and field testing a new breed of computer network that can track the location of everyday objects, such as razors and shoes, through an elaborate system of radio frequency-emitting microchips and readers.
Auto-ID Center sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Gillette, Target, Home Depot and Wal-Mart, have poured about $20 million into the project since its start, said Kevin Ashton, executive director of the Auto-ID Center.
The university will continue to do RFID research through a new organization, called Auto-ID Labs, Ashton said. The former Procter & Gamble executive is leaving MIT at the end of the month as part of the transition.
The reason for the change is that RFID technology has advanced to the point that the next steps of its development, namely the coordination of technical standards and specifications, go beyond MIT's mission as a research university, Ashton said. MIT handed off the administration of RFID standards and other duties in September to EPCglobal, a joint venture of the Uniform Code Council and EAN International, which oversee global bar code standards. Auto-ID Labs has licensed its RFID technology to EPCglobal (formerly AutoID Inc.), and the fees from that agreement will fund its research, Ashton said. "