Mar 02, 2014For the past two weeks, we have been putting together three RFID product showcases for RFID Journal LIVE! 2014. Each structure stands 10 feet high by 9 feet wide, and each side features nine 3-foot-by-3-foot panels displaying a different product name, description and image. We have been gathering these images from exhibitors, and our designers have been creating the panels. What impresses me is the huge variety of products and the many different applications they are designed to address.
There are tags designed specifically for apparel, aerospace parts, returnable transport items (washable labels, as opposed to hardened plastic tags), medical instruments (tags that can withstand sterilization procedures), jewelry and cosmetics (once very difficult items on which to read tags), and small tools (for which tags must be small and protected from being banged). There are also passive RFID sensor tags for monitoring temperature levels. I think it's fair to say there is probably a passive tag available to work on anything you might want to track and manage.
The showcases will feature passive high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) readers that fit on key chains, plug into mobile phones, and snap onto handheld computers and bar-code scanners. Some readers have a built-in edge server that can be embedded into mobile devices or other products, while others can turn any shelf or tabletop into a smart surface.
There are, of course, great active systems and software applications designed for retail, oil and gas, manufacturing, aerospace and other sectors. And this year, there are more complete solutions, comprising tags, readers and software, including Biolog-id's blood-tracking solution, InfoChip's IC Mobile solution and Simply RFID's iBeacon surveillance system.
I think the biggest challenge now is to help event attendees identify the technology providers that can solve their specific business problems or streamline particular processes. That's why we introduced product showcases at last year's conference (see Great Products Need Strong Marketing). Attendees can walk around these structures, see what is available and then visit the exhibitors that might have the RFID products they need. At LIVE! 2013, people took notes and snapped photographs. One attendee from a retail chain thanked me for creating the showcase. "We were looking for a way to test the performance of various tags," she said. "I had no idea who offered this. Seeing one of the systems available on the showcase saved me hours of time searching the floor."
Last year, we also introduced a concierge service to help attendees find the right solutions. Visitors who used the service said it was very helpful, so we're offering it again this year. I will chat with registered attendees on the phone prior to the event to learn about their needs, and I'll provide a list of exhibitors to visit, as well as sessions they might want to attend.
Another service—speed networking—also proved quite helpful, so we're offering it again this year as well. Attendees can indicate the products they are looking for, and we will introduce them, over the course of an hour, to eight or 10 vendors that might solve their particular problems. They can then set up follow-up meetings with the contacts that seem the most promising. In addition, attendees can utilize the RFID Connect smartphone application to search for exhibitors by type of product offered (passive UHF tags or real-time location systems, for example) or by industries served (say, aerospace or manufacturing), as well as view the event's floor plan (see RFID Journal Releases RFID Connect Smartphone App).
Our goal has always been to make RFID Journal LIVE! the place where end users can come to find solutions to even their most intractable business problems. With the variety of RFID solutions being offered—and our tools for finding them—attendees should come away this year with the technology that meets their needs.
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.