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RFID for All

We need simple applications that make it easier for companies to get started using radio frequency identification technology.
By Mark Roberti
Jun 08, 2015

I received an e-mail last week from a gentleman who wanted to perform an inventory count of everything in each office in his building, including chairs, desks, printers and monitors. "Where do I start?" he asked. "And which specific vendor do you recommend?"

I told him that it would be possible to put tags on each of these items, as well as on the doorway to very office. I suggested that it should be feasible to read the tag on a given doorway and have that action trigger an application on a handheld reader to call up a list of all tagged objects within that room. He could then wave the handheld around the room, capture the IDs of the tagged items and have the app check off those present, highlight any that are not present, and provide a list of items that are present but are not on the inventory list.

The problem, I told him, is there is no off-the-shelf app—at least, to my knowledge—designed to do this. So he could by a handheld reader and tags online, but he'd have to write an app that would run on the handheld and link to his database of items in each room. He was surprised. "This is such a headache," he replied.

Yes, it is, and it frustrates me greatly. The RFID industry has done a great job of creating passive tags that can work on almost any object, and of producing a wide variety of passive readers for different applications. But it's done a poor job of offering simple apps that can be used with a handheld and a few tags.

I understand that reader companies want to sell a lot of readers, not one or two at a time, and that they don't want to be bothered providing tech support for someone who buys only a single device. I get that software companies want to sell lots of seat licenses. But there is a large market out there of firms that might use RFID if it were easier and cheaper. A company willing to address this smaller market could wind up making a lot of money, and these small deployments could turn into bigger deployments over time.

I believe that if a company creates a low-cost inventory-management solution and markets it to RFID Journal's readers, it would achieve success. It is difficult to determine how much success, since no one has ever done it. But I think there is a lot of demand out there for simple RFID solutions, and it's a segment that, so far, has not been adequately served. Unfortunately, that means far fewer businesses are benefiting from RFID than should be.

It will be interesting to see which companies step up to address this market (there are a few that are beginning to focus on it), and whether I am right regarding the demand for simple, low-cost inventory-management solutions.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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USER COMMENTS

Tony Gardner 2015-06-09 04:25:04 PM
Hi Mark, There is a company that does this and has been doing this for many years! Intellitrack Inc makes user friendly applications that run on industrial RFID readers like the Moto MC 9190. The operation you described is literally, exactly how the software works. All of the Fixed Assets are then loaded into an SQL DB and are viewed and manipulated and then reported on locally. They even have a new web based application called Stratus that is delivered as a SaaS.
Vizbee SAS - Abraham Blonder 2015-06-10 11:36:15 AM
Hi Mark, Your dreams come true :-) Vizbee RFID Solution provide an off-the-shelf product that address this kind of project. Set your parameters and this is it - start working with it. Our software allow you to scale from small projects as you described to enterprise level ones (for both asset tracking and logistics aspects). Want to check it out - contact AB&R (www.abr.com) for the US market or for the rest of the world contact directly: contact@vizbee.com
Naresh Mittal 2015-06-11 06:08:24 PM
Hi Mark, Thanks for the article, which really highlights the major issue with many small end users for not being able to adopt the RFID. TrackSeal (www.trackseal.com), an Australian RFID solution provider does exactly what you have highlighted. TrackSeal has solutions for all sizes of clients, may it be requiring single reader (from almost any manufacturer) or 1000s of them, Trackseal does it all. The solution is suitable for tracking people, assets, T&A, access control, manufacturing and many more applications. TrackSeal solutions are capable of interfacing to client applications to import and export data in any format they like. Please contact info@trackseal.com for more information. Naresh Mittal
Alex Wong 2015-06-12 05:53:05 AM
RedBite Solutions has developed an app that does precisely that. Our RedStore app does not require any onsite server or middleware and it works off-the-shelf, without coding. RedStore is a low-cost monthly subscription package that includes a cloud web application, smartphone app, RFID bluetooth handheld device and asset tags. The smartphone app works offline and syncs intelligently to the cloud. An asset can be tagged not just with Gen2 RFID tags but also with QR codes, NFC tags or any combination of the three! RedStore is quite revolutionary and is already saving companies time and money by being deployed in the facilities management sector and aviation sectors. If you want to be able to count your assets in seconds and for your assets to be smart enough to let you know where they are and if they are missing, RedStore is the solution you need. Every Object Tells A Story. RedStore lets them speak. To find out more and to purchase RedStore, email: info@redbite.com or visit our website www.redbite.com.
Jasper Pons 2015-06-16 03:26:18 AM
Scanman software does this it also does adaptive power on the scanners to help isolate tags, uses the handheld to take photos of assets, and uses the GPS to create asset location reports in Google earth. Www.Scanman.co.za

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