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The Image of the IoT vs. RFID

Many people see Internet of Things technologies in a positive light, despite problems, but do not view RFID the same way. The question is: Why?
By Mark Roberti
May 21, 2018

I received an email last week from Consumers International, an umbrella group of consumer organizations, regarding a short video it had created to warn parents about toys linked to the Internet (watch the video). It highlights how toys with cameras or microphones can be hacked and used to spy on families. The video got me wondering: why, when there are so many negatives associated with the Internet of Things (IoT), do so many businesspeople view it in a positive light—and why did so many still have a negative perception of radio frequency identification technology?

A little history: back in the early 2000s, RFID was considered a new technology that was going to change everything. News articles were extremely positive. Then, around 2006 or 2007, the technology went into the "chasm," as Geoffrey Moore calls it—or, if you prefer Gartner's Hype Cycle terminology, it entered the trough of disillusionment. Stories turned negative, as did many business people's view of the technology.

"Internet of Things" has been a buzzword for several years now, and despite negative articles about hacking—see, for example, "Hackers once stole a casino's high-roller database through a thermometer in the lobby fish tank"—the IoT is still viewed positively.

So far, there have been few large-scale IoT projects (unless you consider RFID part of the IoT—which I do, but which many analysts and journalists do not). I conducted an online search for "major IoT projects" but came up with only a handful of specific examples, other than a couple of smart-city projects. So why is there still so much hype about the IoT and not about RFID?

The IoT might still go into the chasm and become viewed negatively, but I don't think that will be the case. I believe it has a number of things going for it that make it different from RFID and other new technologies. One major advantage is that we all use the Internet every day and derive tremendous benefits from doing so, so extending that to the objects around us seems like a huge positive… even if there are a few hacking incidents along the way.

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