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Can Anyone in the Obama Administration Spell 'RFID'?
The president called for Congress to authorize $1 billion for ill-defined support for manufacturing, while ignoring the RFID revolution in its backyard.
Feb 25, 2013—Each year, the president of the United States delivers a State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. These speeches provide laundry lists of things the office holder would like to get done, but will most likely never accomplish. But I watch every year, to see what the president thinks is important.
This year, President Barack Obama discussed the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute that his administration created in Youngstown, Ohio. "A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3-D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything," he stated. President Obama announced that his administration was launching three more such institutes, and he called on Congress to allocate funding for 15 additional institutes at a cost of $1 billion. These hubs, he explained, would be places "where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs."
Unlike the Internet, which emerged from U.S. government-sponsored initiatives—notably Darpanet—RFID is not being nurtured by the U.S. government. And unlike the Internet, which was driven largely by U.S. innovation, RFID is an open field, with companies worldwide competing for a major stake in the market. The U.S. government could still help nurture RFID companies in the United States. Unfortunately, no one in the Obama administration can spell "RFID," or seems to understand what the technology is and how it can benefit manufacturers. This is ironic, given that the DOD is one of the largest users of RFID technology in the world (see DOD's RFID Efforts Are Winning the War on Inefficiencies), while the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to RFID-track equipment and supplies at all its medical centers and facilities (see VA to Reassess Contract, Proposals for Nationwide RTLS Deployments).
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