Frequently Asked Questions About the Smart Active Label Consortium (SAL-C)

Q. What are smart active labels?
Smart active labels (SAL) are thin (less than 1 mm) and flexible labels that contain an integrated circuit and a power source. SAL includes in its definition both “fully active” smart labels, and semi-active smart labels, also known as battery-assisted backscattered passive labels, both of which enable enhanced functionality and superior performance over existing passive labels. SAL is a next-generation technology that offers new and enhanced features in the thin and flexible label format and reduces the size and cost of active tags. These systems, which provide a means of locating, tracking, and tracing assets or people, are increasingly finding applications in areas such as access control, supply chain management, security, transportation, ticketing and a whole range of smart forms. These labels can be produced via mass production processes such as roll-to-roll production.

Q. What is the purpose of SAL-C?
The Smart Active Labels (SAL) Consortium is an international interest group, established in 2002, intended to develop the use of smart active label technologies in a number of industries and to demonstrate new and improved solutions targeted at the specific needs described by end users. SAL-C is focused on actively encouraging users and suppliers to get together to discuss needs and solutions. SAL-C deliverables will include writing white papers, providing technical analyses for users, formulating industry-wide standards for SAL solutions, and educating the market about smart active labels. The objectives of the Consortium are:

  • to provide a platform for end users to inform suppliers of their needs
  • to provide a forum for suppliers to explain and demonstrate to end users the advances in technology
  • to enable the interested parties to pursue common standards
  • to create a foundation on which industry-wide partnerships can be built, and from which technology can be advanced and developed according to end user requirements.

Q. What are the guiding principles of SAL-C?
The fundamental principles on which the SAL Consortium is established are: ” Smart active labels must be thin and flexible in nature, and low in cost to produce ” The development of smart active label systems necessitates the participation of a number of technology suppliers, as well as vital inputs from end-users, and thus co-development projects between the members are encouraged ” Competition is encouraged as a positive force in developing the SAL market and is expected to enhance the final products for end-users ” The Consortium aims to develop universal open (or semi-open, industry-specific) systems of SAL

Q. Why should a company join SAL-C as a member?
The SAL Consortium is an action-driven group that intends to translate the advances in smart active label technologies into real solutions for real industries. Because we are building a collaboration between end-user companies and vendors to achieve this, consortium members of both types will be able to have an influence on the direction of the SAL sector and a high profile in the marketplace. If your company has ideas about the development or adoption path of smart active label technology, SAL-C is the forum that can turn them into reality.

Q. How long will the consortium exist?
We will stay active for as long as it takes to feel confident that our message has been heard and accepted by consumers and by the industry. As long as our programs and deliverables have benefit, we plan to continue our work.

Q. Will the SAL-C be a formally recognized standards body, like ANSI or IEEE?
No. The SAL technology specifications we will develop will thrive in an open and flexible environment, with end-user and vendor input and acceptance. SAL-C intends to cooperate with existing standards bodies such as UCC, EAN, AutoID, etc. We believe we can deliver credible specifications that will be widely adopted without slowing down the process in formal standard-setting processes. Since specifications are not our only focus, we also don’t want to divert resources away from our other programs in order to seek accreditation as a standards body. However, as SAL-C is recognized as a leader in smart active label solutions, we intend to give “SAL-C Certification” to products that fall within the definition of smart active labels.

Q. What are the implications of competitors joining the same working organization?
As with many consortia and industry groups, the membership of the SAL Consortium includes competing companies. One of the consortium’s goals is to become a unifying body and a voice for the SAL sector. A group effort will benefit the members by helping the industry grow more rapidly and with greater awareness and prestige with customers. As a non-profit organization, the SAL-C is not permitted to promote individual companies’ products or services over other members’ offerings. Members will also be discouraged from sharing any proprietary information within the consortium.

Q. How will you deal with the anti-trust issues that are likely to come up?
The SAL Consortium has been formed as a non-profit trade association, which will work to the benefit of all members collectively. We have taken steps to ensure that anti-trust issues do not arise. Our lawyers are attentive to all inherent danger points and actively advise the Board, such as reminding them to avoid any discussion of pricing. Second, we will likely make filings under the NCRPA (National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993), which will limit our exposure under the U.S. anti-trust laws.

Q. What are the differences among the three SAL-C membership benefit levels?
Essentially, Executive members are the leaders and drivers of the organization, eligible to hold seats on the board and to lead project teams. Executive members collectively help define SAL-C strategy and direct its implementation. Principal members are eligible to work on project teams and to participate in SAL Consortium booths at conferences. All members – Executive, Principal and Associate — will receive SAL-C deliverables and member communications, and will be listed on the SAL-C Web site.

Q. How much time does a member need to commit?
There’s no cut-and-dried answer – what you get out of your membership in SAL-C depends on what you put in. If you make your voice heard, if you participate and contribute, you will have a more valuable experience than someone who seems to be merely along for the ride. An average Principal member might spend only a couple of hours a month in SAL-C activities; an Executive member might spend more and an Associate member less. Of course, if you take on a high-profile role in the Consortium, such as leading a project team, you can expect a larger time obligation.

Q. I’m a consultant. Can I join SAL-C as an individual?
No. Membership is structured for companies, not individuals. The public side of our Web site, however, will display information available to anyone with an interest in Smart Active Labels.

Q. What project teams are planned or underway?
Currently SAL-C is developing a branding process. The goal of this process is to establish a true brand identity for Smart Active Labels. Users will recognize the SAL-C brand and know that a SAL-C branded technology meets a higher standard than traditional passive RFID.

Q. When do the project teams meet?
The current project team meets via conference call on a bi-weekly basis, and meet face-to-face quarterly.

Q. How can I find out what the project teams are doing?
If you join a project team, you will automatically receive updates from the chairman or the project team leader that are sent to the members of the group. Updates will also be available on the members-only side of the SAL-C Web site.

Q. Do I have to divulge any proprietary information to be an active member in SAL-C?
No. Members are not expected to share any proprietary company materials while participating in SAL-C activities. In fact, we prefer that you not share it, as this could potentially result in IP (intellectual property) issues for the organization and for other members.

Q. What is the difference between SAL-C and the Auto-ID Center?
In many aspects, SAL-C complements the Auto-ID efforts. While Auto-ID focuses on Passive RFID, SAL-C is focused on the definition of Smart Active Labels with the emphasis on the additional capabilities of this technology, which are mainly derived from the power source on board the label. Some of these extended capabilities are vastly improved ranges and reliability, sensory functionalities and new RFID application arenas for the end user. New applications include processes like automatic warehouse inventory counts, environmental condition sensing with real time alerts from items, item location trackability and supply chain item traceability. It is highly likely that SAL-C definitions and standards efforts will include many of the applicable Auto-ID definitions and standards.

Q. Are any companies actually making Smart Active Labels?
Yes. KSW Microtec has developed TempSense, a thin and flexible temperature sensor. TempSense enables permanent temperature monitoring of an exact object (e.g. produce, dairy, meat, etc.). TempSense is a good example of a smart active label, as it contains a thin and flexible power source, a single chip containing a thermistor (temperature sensor), and an RFID antenna. TempSense can also be produced via a roll-to-roll continuous manufacturing processes.

Q. Who is leading the project teams?
Richard Rees, a renowned figure in standards, leads the Standards team
Nitzan Cafif of Power Paper runs the Demonstration team

Q. Do I need to be a member to participate on a project team?
Yes. However, we welcome the opportunity to conduct demonstrations (end-user showcases) at additional locations, even though the host company may not be a member. Furthermore, academics and individuals may participate as consultants from time to time for the project teams.

Smart Active Labels (SAL) Consortium
Tel: +1 781-876-8833, Email: [email protected]