Director of MIT’s Auto-ID Laboratory and a professor of Information Engineering


April 18, 2007


John Williams


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


This talk will focus on the problems of bringing real time visibility to physical objects by using active and passive RFID. The use of RFID technology to track products through the supply chain was promoted by MIT’s Auto-ID Center and the concept of the 5 cent tag encouraged companies such as Wall*Mart and Gillette to spearhead RFID adoption. However, to be useful in a supply chain we need to be able to answer the questions of What (Identity), When (timestamp), Where (location) and Why (business context). Indeed, the problem extracting higher level (business) events from the voluminous data is a key issue, since even today 70% of the data in ERP systems is unused. The wide array of use cases in the various verticals (FMCG, HLS, Aero, Defense, Auto, Pharma) have raised many questions of how to build a global network in which objects can be tracked. The problems of Discovery and Track and Trace in the Pharma supply chain will be used to highlight some of the complexities that arise when data must be protected and when anti-counterfeiting measures such as e-Pedigree have been mandated by law, as in California and Florida. To understand in more depth security issues, pub-sub and caching, processing of streaming data, and event coordination, the Auto-ID Lab is building a simulator (based on the Robotics Studio CCR and DSS). A number of services will be demoed, such as an open source EPC Information Service (EPCIS) for tag query, a tag translation service for moving between the myriad ID standards in use in industry, and a GEO-EPC location service which are available at , and . For fun and inspired by the Robotics Studio team and Brian Cross’s WiMo, we are also building robots to help shoppers and to track products in warehouses. A number of MS technologies are being used, such as LINQ, XNA, RS( CCR, DSS). WiMo, Virtual Earth, SharePoint and Info-Card.


John Williams

John is Director of MIT’s Auto-ID Laboratory and a professor of Information Engineering. The Auto-ID Lab is one of 7 university laboratories worldwide using RFID to architect “The Internet of Things”. The challenges involve building a global identity system for entities and data that is secure and scalable. He was previously Vice President of Engineering at two software start-ups and is currently doing research for SAP, Intel, EPCglobal and Homeland Security on RFID networks. He teaches two graduate courses on Web System Architecting and on Modern Software Development (both on .NET). He holds a MA in Physics from Oxford University, a MS in Physics from UCLA and a PhD in Numerical Methods from the University of Wales, Swansea and has published two books and over 100 journal and conference papers. In his spare time he plays golf and dances Argentine tango but is grateful for his day job.