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How Does RFID Rank as a Technical Innovation?

Posted By RFID Journal, 06.15.2015

Would the technology fall in the top 50 or the top 100?

—Name withheld


This is a great question, but one that is very difficult to answer. There are many different ways in which to judge technical innovation. One way is to consider the impact it has had on society. Another is to ponder whether you would prefer to live without one innovation over another. And a third way is to determine how much an innovation has improved or extended human life.

You can also consider how complex a technology is. The space shuttles and rockets that sent people to outer space were extraordinarily advanced technically, but did not have much impact (at least, not directly) on the lives of most people on Earth. Cement, on the other hand, is not extremely advanced or difficult to create, but it has had a profound impact on humanity.

RFID is not extremely advanced technology. It seems miraculous sometimes when you see a piece of equipment's location in real time within a large facility, or when you perform an inventory count of 1,000 items within a minute. An RFID chip is relatively simple compared to the high-end chips that go into workstations or PCs.

In terms of impact, RFID technology has had very little so far. That's because the technology is very new and has not yet been widely deployed. It remains to be seen whether, during the next 20 years or so, RFID will become ubiquitous, as well as how it will be used. I don't think it will be as important as the Internet, which was ranked in an article in The Atlantic as the ninth most important innovation, because RFID is, in essence, an extension of the Internet. But I think it will be ranked in the top 50.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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