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The RAIN Communication Interface (RCI) guideline provides a way for UHF RFID solution providers to build systems that can communicate with any make or model of reader and operate in multiple applications with different reader types, thus eliminating the need for APIs.

The RCI guideline allows technology providers to offer systems that could operate with any reader, thereby enabling deployments with multiple reader types, as well as offering a solution that could be used at many customer sites. As billions of tags are deployed on products and assets that might move through multiple RFID reader infrastructures, the guideline will make it easier for each application to identify tags of interest, and to automatically disregard those the system does not recognize.

The guideline was created by members of the RAIN RFID Alliance’s Developers Workgroup after systems integrators asked for an easier way to control readers. RCI’s profile command replaces the need for a reader to send a series of commands to identify a tag and then process that tag’s response. Instead, the series of commands can be built into the single profile command. That function also eliminates the requirement for application programming interfaces (APIs) for each reader.


  • The “HTML” of RFID – Increases interoperability of systems and solutions.
  • Compatible with existing RFID standards – RAIN inherently builds on the global standards from GS1 and ISO.
  • Connecting with the IoT world – Easier to create connections with MQTT, OPC UA, and more.


  • Simple to use, and simple to implement
  • Use any interface that can stream serial data (USB, TCP/IP, Bluetooth, RS-232, etc.)
  • Allows for implementation on low-resource or high-resource platforms (CPU, memory, communication bandwidth)
  • Extendable to allow vendors to add their own features

The current version of the guideline has all the basic commands to allow full interrogation of the reader. The Developers Workgroup is currently working to add additional features to the RCI from the GS1 and ISO/IEC protocol standards, such as support for the cryptographic techniques and sensors connected to RAIN RFID tags.

The RAIN Alliance has released the RCI guideline under the Apache License, version 2.0, and encourages all reader manufacturers to download the guideline and use it for their RAIN RFID reader development. The RAIN Reader Communication Interface Guideline is on the Documents website page.

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