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ABI Research: Plug-and-Play RFID to Save the Day

ABI Research, a technology research firm based in Oyster Bay, New York, believes that the answer to recently reported RFID doldrums can be summed up in three words: plug-and-play.
Jun 09, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 9, 2005—ABI Research, a technology research firm based in Oyster Bay, New York, believes that the answer to recently reported RFID doldrums can be summed up in three words: plug-and-play. In a post-Wal-Mart deadline world, many RFID deployments ended up being the bare minimum to comply with the mandate. In general, according to ABI, many companies remain in a "wait-and-see holding pattern" with respect to RFID, satisfied to have met customer mandates but not eager to do any more with the technology.

How, then, to revitalize adoption? Aside from the obvious -- decreasing costs and improving performance -- ABI believes that simplifying RFID could go a long way to spurring would-be implementers to push ahead. More specifically: plug-and-play, a phrase used in computer hardware to describe when a new device is plugged in, turned on, and immediately works like it's supposed to. According to ABI analyst Sara Shah, "Most of the RFID products available so far require a good deal of hard work for users to integrate them into their existing supply chain systems. Companies want to be able to plug an RFID reader or printer into their network and simply have it work."

Sure, plug-and-play would make RFID easier to work with, but would it really serve as a panacea to flagging enthusiasm for RFID technology? Shah herself writes that the problem of RFID complexity is "aside from the important issues of cost and reliability." It would seem that in fact complexity is only a very distant third to those other two giant hurdles. Notably, however, in Microsoft's announcement this week about the .NET-based RFID infrastructure it plans to release next year, "plug-and-play" was mentioned. According to the press release, the software "will include an advanced device management layer that will help customers configure and manage devices in a simple plug-and-play manner." Sun Microsystems, too, has touted its plug-and-play approach to RFID software.

So while it's questionable that plug-and-play can "save the day" (as ABI put it), it is clear that RFID software manufacturers recognize its value and are actively building it into their products. Let us hope that it has the effect ABI thinks it will. What do you think?

Read the press release at ABI Research
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