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A Better Year Ahead

Demand for RFID hardware, software and services will be stronger in 2008, but don't expect the volume of products purchased to soar.
By Mark Roberti
3. Demand for active RFID technology will remain strong. Many internal applications involve tracking assets within large warehouses or factories. The longer read ranges and challenging environments often require active RFID systems. I expect active technology providers will continue to do well in 2008, as more health-care providers and manufacturers adopt the technology.

4. RFID hardware will continue to improve. Despite some cutbacks in spending by vendors in 2007, there was plenty of investment in product development. Hardware systems will continue to improve as vendors address end-user concerns, such as how to determine the location of a tagged item in a three-dimensional space, or the direction in which a tagged object is moving, or how to avoid reading tags you don't want to read (companies have had issues with forklift truck readers picking up tags on shelved cases or on cases still on the forklift, as well as with portal readers picking up cases at adjacent dock doors). I know of several companies that plan to reveal some exciting new products at next year's RFID Journal LIVE! event.

5. New software will emerge to address business problems. Now that EPCglobal has published its EPC Information Services standard, software companies can develop applications that leverage these standards to solve business problems. So far, only a handful of companies, such as OATSystems and T3Ci, have fully understood the value of these standards and created applications able to take advantage of them. But it is likely that people with expertise in a particular industry—chemicals, automotive, transportation, you name it—will realize these standards can be utilized to create visibility and solve previously intractable problems. Don't expect to see a rush of off-the-shelf solutions right away—it takes time to develop robust software, after all—but I do expect to see a wave of software innovation begin in 2008.

Another wild card is the economy. The United States is dealing with the bursting of the housing bubble. The resulting liquidity crisis and a lack of consumer confidence has some economists predicting a 50 percent chance of recession. Certainly, an economic slowdown could cause some companies to cut back on technology investments. But assuming any recession is mild, I think vendors can look forward to a moderately good year in 2008, followed by a strong one in 2009.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below.

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