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Suddenly, RFID Is Hot

Or maybe it's just getting warmer—but I'm seeing a lot of anecdotal evidence that interest in the technology is growing.
By Mark Roberti
There is another thing I notice about the current interest in RFID: Almost no one asks me about performance issues. They assume RFID works, and that it works well. In fact, they assume the solutions are more developed than they actually are. I often have to explain to end users who call me that there isn't an off-the-shelf product available that will do what they want to do, and so they need to work with a good systems integrator to create it.

I don't think we are in a tornado—Moore's term for a period of rapid growth in which every company adopts a technology—yet. For a tornado to occur, you need a global standard, a compelling business problem that the new technology can solve, a dominant technology provider (a "gorilla," in Moore's terminology), and a certain level of critical mass.

I don't think we are there yet in any one sector, but retail apparel could be the first to go. Almost all retailers employ ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID technology—it is essentially the global standard. And most retailers are looking to use RFID to solve the same business problem (poor inventory visibility and replenishment), and a group of major retailers are all close to deploying solutions. But no market leader yet exists, though Avery Dennison and Motorola both appear to be emerging as the hardware "gorillas."

In most other industries, companies are utilizing RFID for a wide variety of internal applications that will help them reduce costs and become more efficient. That means everyone in an industry will not suddenly adopt the technology to solve a problem they all share. But those that have already deployed a solution to solve one internal problem will likely add to their RFID infrastructure over time in order to track and manage other things, and they will prove the benefits—which will then encourage others to deploy similar solutions. So I would expect the RFID industry to enjoy impressive growth rates over the next five years. And that means there is good reason for technology suppliers to be upbeat.

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 the Editor's Note archive.

USER COMMENTS

Kevin Payne 2010-09-24 09:05:01 AM
Senior Director of Marketing, Intelleflex I agree...the number and variety of applications and uses for RFID seem to be growing by the day. To your point, ISO 18000-6 Class 3 will define the standard for battery assisted passive RFID which delivers much more powerful capabilities at a fraction of the cost of active RFID...this standard should further accelerate growth as new applications become cost-effective.

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