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The Way Forward

Our special report examines the prospects for the Auto-ID Center's proposed system for tracking products using a low-cost RFID and open-standards and lays out a roadmap for companies looking to adopt the technology.
Sep 09, 2002Sept. 9, 2002 - The aim of RFID Journal has always been to be more than just a trade publication for an emerging industry. Our goal is to provide the kind of information and insights about radio frequency identification that will help companies make sound business decisions about RFID technology. Lots of publications make such claims. Few deliver.

I’m proud of the reporting we’ve done over the past six months. But now we are taking it to a new level with a multi-part Special Report entitled Low-Cost RFID: The Way Forward. The report will be published in sections over the next few months. It will drawn on interviews with more than 100 people, on published reports, and on inside information to provide the most complete, unvarnished look at the potential for low-cost RFID available anywhere.

This week, the first installment, The State of the Art, looks at the current state of the Auto-ID Center’s technology. The center aims to have a complete system ready for wide-scale adoption by the end of next year. Is that realistic? We examine the center’s controversial claim that it will create a reference design for a 5-cent tag and a $100 multi-frequency reader. And we reveal the plans of some of the technology vendors who will produce the hardware.

Next week, in part two of the Special Report, Prospects for Adoption, we will take a hard look at the most critical issue of all: Will companies invest millions of dollars in deploying the Auto-ID Center’s system? We will look at where the benefits are, the plans of the leading sponsors of the center, and how they expect to begin deploying technology for tracking goods using electronic product codes.

Future installments will look at how low-cost RFID will change the way companies do business and shed light on the issues that need to be considered, such as cultural changes and the need to upgrade IT systems. We plan to look at how the benefits of the technology, how it will be deployed, and how it will change business processes in the factory, distribution center, and store.

This report is not based on speculation or theory, but on interviews with the people in the trenches -- those building the system, those testing it, and those drawing up plans for their own pilots. We will not be able to produce one report a week because of the intense research involved. But we hope to have the series completed by the end of the year because the most-forward looking companies are expected to have pilots underway by then.

This special report focuses on the Auto-ID Center’s technology because it the most serious, most ambitious and most realistic attempt to create a system for tracking goods using low-cost RFID. We are also focusing on the Center because it has gotten a lot of press in the past year and many companies have questions. Are the center’s claims legitimate? Are the stories I’m reading accurate, or are they exaggerating? Is my company way behind, or can I still catch up? We hope to answer all of these questions and many more.

As regular readers of RFID Journal know, I firmly believe that low-cost RFID is coming, whether it’s the Auto-ID Center’s system or another standard that’s adopted. The issues we will examine over the next couple of months are ones that all companies will have to grapple with at some point. If this Special Report provides a roadmap for companies as they move forward, or at least gives senior executives an understanding of the issues they need to investigate, then we will have fulfilled our mandate.

Mark Roberti is the Editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article or submit your own, send e-mail to mroberti@rfidjournal.com.
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