University of Pittsburgh
September 27, 2005

Pitt Announces Creation of New RFID Center

Major expansion of University's cutting-edge RFID research could have worldwide business impact
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Tired of long lines at the checkout counter? Radio frequency identification (RFID) is often described as the next generation of bar codes, allowing customers to pay for items without removing them from their shopping carts-among the technology's many other applications.

Today, the University of Pittsburgh formally announced the creation of a Radio Frequency Identification Center of Excellence, which will enable the University to expand its already-powerful capabilities in the RFID field and remain a leader in directing RFID research. Pitt's RFID research program has been identified as among the top three such programs worldwide.

The center will be directed by Marlin H. Mickle, Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Telecommunications, and Industrial Engineering at Pitt.

University Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, School of Engineering Dean Gerald D. Holder, Mickle, and representatives from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Del Monte Foods, and Supply Systems Inc. (SSI) spoke at today's announcement event. Representatives from at least 30 other international, national, and local companies were present at the event.

"The RFID Center, led by Professor Mickle, will be a powerhouse of creativity and technological innovation that should lead to significant improvements in the economy and simplify the lives of consumers," said Holder. "We're excited about its huge potential."

"We're confident that this center will take us the final mile down the road to the widespread use of RFID technology in business and industry," said Mickle. "It's not an overstatement to say that when the University of Pittsburgh perfects the technology, we may play a role in changing how the world does business."

The RFID Center will be hosted in the John A. Swanson Institute for Technical Excellence (SITE) in the University's School of Engineering. Initial funding for the center will be provided by the School of Engineering, and future research support will be provided by grants and contracts from companies and governmental agencies.

"We have been working with the University of Pittsburgh in establishing a southwestern Pennsylvania RFID solution group and are excited about Pitt's commitment to this emerging technology," said James Lamagna, manager of logistics systems with Del Monte Foods. "The RFID Center at the University of Pittsburgh reinforces its commitment to RFID technology and serves as a great resource for local companies."

An example of the kinds of successful collaborations expected from the center is the joint development effort between University researchers and ADCUS, Inc., who have partnered to produce customized active RFID tags. The results of the project, now in the final testing stages, will enable companies to affordably customize their own unique RFID tags.

Del Monte, GSK, SSI, and ADCUS are part of a group of Pitt RFID research industry partners that also includes HP; PPG Industries; Vocollect, Inc.; the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance; Matthews International Corporation's Marking Products Division; the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Matrics, Inc.; Identifi Technologies Inc.; Mobile Aspects, Inc.; FireFly; E-SOC, Inc.; and ClearCount Medical Solutions, Inc. Governmental agencies providing support to Pitt RFID research have included the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse, and the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

Pitt's SITE comprises the John A. Swanson Center for Micro and Nano Systems (SCMNS) and the John A. Swanson Center for Product Innovation (SCPI). The SCMNS, a collaboration between School of Engineering researchers and industry partners, offers opportunities for companies to work with faculty in developing intellectual property, while the SCPI gives companies access to the University's state-of-the-art product development technology through the consulting services of its students, faculty, and staff.