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Innovation to Drive Strong RTLS Adoption

There will be $145 million worth of RTLS systems sold in 2008, and the market will top $1 billion within 10 years, according to a new research report from IDTechEx. Ultra wideband (UWB) is singled out as one of the fastest-growing RTLS technologies, although widespread growth for alternative technologies and application markets is expected as well.
Aug 13, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

August 13, 2008—Adoption of real-time locating systems (RTLS) will grow annually at least for the next ten years because of improvements in technology performance, ease of use, and affordability, according to a new report from IDTechEx. The industry research, consulting and events firm headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts estimates there will be less than 300 new RTLS implementations this year, but more than 10 times as many in 2018, and projects sales in the period will grow from $145 million to more than $1 billion -- provided that product innovation continues.

"The RTLS adoption rate is very dependent on the technologies improving, particularly in cost and their ability to plug and play," IDTechEx chairman Dr. Peter Harrop told RFID Update. "That is exactly what is happening now."

Harrop said RTLS technology has made major performance, price and ease-of-use advances recently but improvement is not showing signs of reaching a plateau. "The pace of industry innovation is frenetic," he said.

As a result, Harrop is confident that the strong adoption growth of recent years will continue, and spread to new markets not currently targeted by RTLS solution providers.

"You can be confident the market will broaden," he said. "It is obvious there will be enhancements that will lead to RTLS systems that will be suitable for small businesses."

Harrop thinks ultra wideband (UWB) RTLS technology is especially poised to make a leap in adoption. UWB currently accounts for a small percentage of the RTLS market and is offered by relatively few vendors, but UWB awareness and market share are both growing. Harrop notes that UWB is winning customers because it is more precise than other technology alternatives, and adoption could get a big boost if standards development efforts are fruitful. The WiMedia Alliance is promoting a UWB for wireless USB applications and is working with the ISO to create international interoperability standards. A few years from now UWB networks could be commonly deployed, similar to WiFi networks today, according to Harrop.

"The ultra wideband providers are all gaining market share very fast," said Harrop. "There's a new ISO standard being developed for UWB, and decaWave is already developing chipsets for it, which will also give the market a boost." For more perspective see UWB Finding a Place in the RTLS Market.

The IDTechEx report is also optimistic on the outlook for more commonly used RTLS technologies, including 433 MHz, WiFi and other alternatives.

"There's no one technology that will conquer all the market needs," said Harrop.

Currently RTLS vendors are taking many steps so their competing technologies can be used in integrated systems (see New RTLS Solution Combines WiFi, UWB, and RFID, New System Marries RFID Location Data With Item Info, Thousands of Auto Parts Verified with RFID and UWB and Active RFID Tag Supports Multiple Frequencies). However, Harrop thinks there will be limited adoption of hybrid systems as the performance of individual technologies continues to improve.

The report, Real Time Locating Systems 2008-2018, includes overviews of different RTLS technologies, user profiles, a summary of standards, supplier profiles, analyses of end user markets, technology, regulatory, geographic and business trends, and multiple sales forecasts.

Earlier this summer IDTechEx released a similar report for the RFID industry (see RFID Market on Target to Reach $5.3B in 2008).
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