Feb 06, 2012Almost every day, I receive e-mail from end users or systems integrators somewhere in the world, asking where they can find something, such as an active tag with an accelerometer, a passive tag that can be used in an autoclave, a handheld reader with Bluetooth capability, starter kits, a bundle of tags for testing on products or an integrator with experience deploying real-time location systems. And I do my best to steer them to the proper hardware, software and service providers.
As the number of these calls and e-mails increased over the past 18 months or so, however, it soon became clear to me that this informal service I was providing could not scale. So approximately six months ago, RFID Journal began investing in rebuilding RFID Connect, our event-planning and online community site, to enable vendors to upload information regarding their products, including images, spec sheets and more.
Attendees to RFID Journal LIVE!, our annual conference and exhibition, have been able to use RFID Connect to plan which sessions they would like to attend at the event, as well as make appointments and print out daily planners. For the past two years, we've left the site active year-round, so members could post blogs and messages on RFID Connect's Message Forums, request an introduction to other members, read press releases and interact in other ways with those in the RFID community.
Last week, we officially re-launched RFID Connect. The refurbished site maintains all previous features, but has a new look and more advanced product listings. It is not designed to be a transactional site—that is, you won't be able to purchase technology online. Instead, it is intended to help end users and systems integrators locate the products they think they need, and to contact those vendors directly in order to make a purchase.
We've begun showcasing featured products from RFID Connect on RFID Journal's homepage. It's my hope that the site will become a robust repository of product information, so our readers can browse through products by category, or perform keyword searches and find everything from generic passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags to motes that can form mesh networks to monitor the environment.
I hope vendors will take advantage of this new capability, and put effort into uploading accurate and timely product information. There is a tendency among vendors to assume that end users know their company and products. In reality, there are a large number of RFID companies worldwide, and the stream of e-mails I've been receiving makes it clear that most people have very little idea of who makes what.
While RFID has yet to reach the maturity of bar codes—you can't buy a scanner off the Internet and plug it into any of your points of sale—I believe it has reached the point at which end users and systems integrators want to be able to research the products available on the market, and perhaps purchase samples that will enable them to create a prototype solution or proof-of-concept. It will take some time to add products to the site; meanwhile, I welcome your feedback.
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, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.