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Physical and Psychological Barriers to RFID Adoption
Passive UHF system vendors will need to solve one problem—and education can help end users overcome another.
Oct 25, 2010—Two of the biggest complaints I hear from end users regarding passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) radio frequency identification systems concern tag reads—whether they're using handheld or fixed readers to monitor inventory on shelves, or to track pallets of goods. On one hand, apparel retailers, warehouse managers and other end users tell me the biggest problem they have is that readers pick up tags they don't want to read at that particular moment. On the other hand, many are concerned that they might miss reading a tag, and that inventory or shipments might thus be inaccurate.
Unwanted tag reads is a legitimate problem. Concern about missing tag reads is more a matter of education, so let me address that issue first.
Apparel is RF-friendly, of course, so accuracy is not difficult to achieve. But I've spoken with end users who have deployed RFID to track returnable containers, metal roll cages, metal products and so forth. They tell me that properly engineered passive UHF systems deliver 98 percent accuracy, and that the reliability of their systems quickly convinced them that RFID is a big improvement on their legacy data-collection systems. (The reality is that people armed with bar-code scanners rarely do as well.)
People are comfortable with bar-code systems, because when someone points a scanner at a bar code, the system doesn't beep until the bar code is read. With RFID, there is no such ability to confirm that each individual tag is read. Still, I think it's just a matter of time before people begin to trust RFID. Those end users who use the systems usually wind up trusting the technology.
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