Summary: Distributing Identity
Published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine,
Vol. 6, No. 1, March 1999, pps 49-56.
Joshua R. Smith
Physics and Media Group
MIT Media Lab
20 Ames Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
Abstract. This paper considers distributed protocols for assigning IDs.
Normally the maker of an RFID system would simply assign each ID
sequentially in the factory, or the user would manually burn it in to
EPROM. But it may be cheaper and simpler to manufacture units iden-
tically, and build the capability to become unique into each one.
I describe three distributed protocols which make use of hardware ran-
dom number generation to create unique IDs. In the first, trivial scheme,
random IDs of sufficient length are independently chosen by all units.
This requires no communication among the units, so it could be used to
assign identities in circumstances in which central coordination or com-