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Microsoft, TCS Team Up On RFID Technology

The Indian outsourcer said it is planning new applications based on Microsoft's BizTalk RFID server software.
Indian outsourcer Tata Consultancy Services is teaming up with Microsoft to help businesses plan and implement RFID technology -- tiny sensors linked to computers that can help companies more easily track inventory, keep tabs on vehicles, or perform other key logistical tasks, TCS said Tuesday.

Under the plan, TCS experts in radio-frequency identification will build applications based on Microsoft's BizTalk RFID server software with an eye to helping its customers implement RFID systems more quickly. BizTalk RFID works to connect data gathered by RFID transmitters in the field with back-end databases and other business software.

The RFID collaboration between TCS and Microsoft comes as interest in the technology among businesses in the West is heating up. The North American market for passive RFID readers -- small devices that read data from tags placed on physical goods -- totaled $23.1 million in 2006, according to market researchers at Frost & Sullivan. The group predicts that the market will grow to $241.6 million by 2013.

Driving that growth is adoption of the technology by major retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores and government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense.

Efforts to standardize RFID systems also are boosting the market, says Frost & Sullivan. The firm cites the emergence of the so-called Gen 2 standards for ultra-high frequency transmission that make it possible for RFID readers manufactured by one company to read tags produced by any other vendor.

Meanwhile, TCS's tie with Microsoft is the latest indication that Indian outsourcers are moving beyond basic application maintenance work in an effort to play in more lucrative emerging technology markets.

TCS launched its RFID practice in 2003 and in June 2005 the company opened a dedicated RFID technology center in Chicago.