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The Future of RFID

Based on the ways in which some businesses are currently using radio frequency identification, we created an image of what the world will look like when the technology becomes ubiquitous, so that companies can plan to seize opportunities as they emerge.
By Mark Roberti
Dec 14, 2009Every CEO wishes he or she had a crystal ball. Knowing the future would allow a company to prepare for it, rather than react belatedly to events and trends as they unfold. RFID Journal doesn't have a crystal ball, either, but that didn't stop our talented writers and editors from imagining what the world will look like in 2030, when radio frequency identification will be ubiquitous.

Each article in the November-December issue of our print magazine examines how a different aspect of life and business is enhanced when RFID is involved. A family goes shopping in a mall and uses the technology to locate a parking spot, find information on items, speed up returns and much more. Emergency responders employ RFID to identify and manage victims in an industrial accident, coordinate the arrival of ambulances, and assign patients to hospitals based on real-time visibility into the availability of beds and equipment. The CEO of a midsize airplane parts manufacturer utilizes RFID to manage outsourced production, rate on-time delivery performance and product defects, and develop a more collaborative relationship with a large customer.


We also look at what travel, education and home life will be like when RFID becomes ubiquitous. In all of the future scenarios we paint, most RFID technology described is available today, and the rest is being tested or is currently in development in labs around the world—that is, the applications do not require passive tags that can be read from, say, 10,000 feet away, or active tags that can be read through five feet of lead.

Our goal in writing these stories was to make vividly plain why we believe radio frequency identification will be ubiquitous in 20 years. You might not want to be on the bleeding edge of RFID adoption today, but some firms are, because they have figured out how to utilize the technology to reduce costs, streamline processes, improve custom service and boost sales. The benefits are real, and there is no turning back.

We educate readers every day about how to achieve these benefits, but we wanted to do more with this issue. We wanted to provide insights into how everything will fit together, so you can take advantage of the opportunities as they emerge. Imagine if a magazine had published an article 10 years ago describing how one day, everyone would be glued to their cell phones, enabling them to manage their business, as well as their social and family lives, from anywhere in the world.

We wanted to stimulate readers to think about what these changes mean for their company in the near and not-so-distant future. I realize that no company is going to make business decisions today based on a magazine's projected image of the future, but it's clear that RFID can power the solutions that attract shoppers to retail stores, expedite product shipments, put the joy back in travel, enhance education, simplify chores and save lives. Will your firm anticipate these trends and seize opportunities, or will you be playing catch-up?

I think that providing technology vendors and end users with a picture of what the world might look like can inspire creativity and enable people to see where future opportunities might lie. I'm excited about the future, and about the myriad ways in which RFID will improve our businesses and our lives, and I hope that when Premium Members receive the magazine, they will be as well.

I'd love to hear what you think about our vision of the future. And if you have ideas for cool applications that might emerge in the future, let us know. I can share them in my blog—giving appropriate credit, of course.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog or click here.
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