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Analyst: Strong Growth Ahead for WiFi-based RTLS
ABI Research today announced findings from recent reseach it conducted on the WiFi-based real-time location systems (RTLS) market. Partly due to the already large and continually growing footprint of WiFi infrastructure, ABI predicts that the WiFi-based RTLS market will see phenomenal 70 percent-plus growth over the next five years.
Jul 24, 2007—This article was originally published by RFID Update.
July 24, 2007—ABI Research of Oyster Bay, New York, today announced findings from recent research it conducted on the WiFi-based real-time location systems (RTLS) market. Due to the already large and continually growing footprint of WiFi infrastructure, the technology is seeing new applications beyond simply wireless internet access for laptops. RTLS is a prime example.
While ABI characterizes the WiFi-based RTLS market right now as "embryonic", it predicts that the market will see phenomenal 70 percent-plus growth over the next five years, from $57 million this year to $839 million in 2012. This projected growth is good news for the vendors, of course, who number only a few. Examples include AeroScout and Ekahau. As yet, the market is relatively uncrowded. That will certainly change as its value ramps up.
As a result of the growth of WiFi-based RTLS, RTLS based on RFID is seeing its relative market share diminish. RTLS solutions were historically based on RFID, according to ABI, and they were proprietary. That is not to say that proprietary RFID-based RTLS solutions are going the way of the dinosaur. On the contrary, many appear to be thriving; recall that WhereNet was snapped up by Zebra earlier this year for $126 million in cash (see Zebra Acquires Active RFID Provider WhereNet). But whereas RTLS was once the exclusive domain of RFID, WiFi has emerged as a competing solution.
There are advantages and disadvantages of WiFi-based RTLS. One of the primary advantages is that an RTLS solution can piggyback on an enterprise's existing WiFi infrastructure (assuming one is installed). The end user therefore only needs to buy RTLS tags and software, not readers. Proprietary RTLS solutions, by contrast, require the end user to purchase the readers as well, effectively having to build out the RTLS infrastructure from scratch. This can be more costly and complicated. Proprietary RTLS solution vendors will counter that the average enterprise WiFi installation is not sufficient to support a WiFi-based RTLS solution, and that more WiFi access points must therefore be purchased to make it perform accurately and reliably.
Another advantage of WiFi-based RTLS is that it is based on standardized WiFi technology. Disadvantages, according to ABI, include less security and less accuracy, particularly outdoors.
ABI noted that WiFi equipment manufacturers are not yet manufacturing their own RTLS solutions, instead reselling the solutions of pure-play RTLS vendors like those mentioned above.
Read the release from ABI Research
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