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Super RFID Gaining Momentum, But Still Years Off

A British company called Instrumental is emerging as an early player in what many experts predict will be as transformative as RFID: sensor technology.
Apr 12, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

April 12, 2005—A British company called Instrumental is emerging as an early player in what many experts predict will be as transformative as RFID: sensor technology. Spun out from the University of Leeds, the company has developed what it is calling "Super RFID" that offers all the standard characteristics of RFID -- data storage, wireless read/write ability, etc. -- along with powerful sensor features like temperature gauging. Such functionality would augment the compelling supply chain visibility promise of RFID with smart capabilities like alert generation. If the ambient temperature around a tagged item fell below a certain threshold, for example, the Super RFID could wirelessly alert the central system. Instrumental's technology also promises improved security in the form of automated locking mechanisms. Super RFID can be placed on shipping containers to prevent unauthorized opening, for example.

Instrumental is but one company among a handful that are working with sensor technology. In November, Intel's associate director of research, Hans Mulder, made the bold prediction that efficiencies brought by sensor technology would increase aggregate world output by 10 percent. And last September IBM announced a commitment of $250 million over five years to grow its Sensor and Actuation (S&A) division, of which RFID is only a component.

The prediction that sensor technology will compliment RFID is rather obvious. Once information can be not only collected at the edge of an enterprise, but acted upon automatically and in realtime, the possibilities become limitless. Indeed, it could be argued that sensor technology will humble RFID in much the same way RFID humbles the bar code. But this reality is still many years off. As with any emerging technology, the price point must fall below are certain level before it can gain enough traction to attract innovation, capital, and customers. Widespread, transformative sensor technology adoption remains a decade away.

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