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A Many Splendored Internet of Things

The IoT has come a long way in the past two decades—as has RFID Journal's coverage of the technologies it encompasses.
By Rich Handley
Mar 04, 2020

It's always fascinating to look to the past and realize just how much things have changed in the interim. As it happens, the Internet of Things has also changed.

When I joined RFID Journal's editorial team in May 2005, I had little idea what radio frequency identification technology was, and I had never before heard the phrase "Internet of Things." My background had been in business-to-business editing at another technology magazine, and I also wrote for several other publications (primarily B2B- and entertainment-based), but RFID was not a technology with which I was overly familiar, other than knowing it had something to do with New York's E-ZPass toll-collection system. That, too, quickly changed.

At the time, although Kevin Ashton had already coined the phrase "Internet of Things" in 1999 (see That 'Internet of Things' Thing), it wasn't a term being utilized in RFID Journal's articles with anywhere near the frequency with which it now appears. A quick search in our back-end system shows that we first mentioned the IoT in a December 2005 feature story by Bob Violino, titled "Leveraging the Internet of Things."

Consider the story's opening paragraph: "When the Auto-ID Center, a nonprofit research organization, was developing Electronic Product Code technologies, it envisioned using radio frequency identification to create an 'Internet of Things'—a network that would allow companies to track goods through the global supply chain and run many business applications simultaneously."

Clearly, the concept was still an emerging one, and we were presenting it as something new and interesting that our readers should take notice of. In fact, from 2006 to 2011, the term "Internet of Things" showed up in only about four of our articles per year. In 2012, things began to change, with our coverage of the Internet of Things starting to take hold as it became clear that the term was gaining wider usage in describing the concept of interconnecting everyday objects so that they can send and receive data. RFID, as an Internet of Things technology, is an important part of that picture, and so our coverage of the IoT began to expand.

Fast-forward to 2020, and a search on our website yields 2,633 articles that mention the Internet of Things. To provide some perspective on how significant that is, our latest published article (Via Onda Announces New Reader and Tag Made in Brazil), is story #19,232, which means that the IoT has gone from being something we mentioned once in 2005, then only four more times annually for the next six years, to now encompassing almost 14 percent of all the articles we've published to date.

But even that number doesn't fully reflect how far the IoT has come, because RFID Journal was founded 18 years ago, in 2002, and the term "Internet of Things" wasn't being widely used on our website until 10 years later, in 2012. In other words, nearly all of those 2,633 IoT-related stories appeared within only the past eight years, for an average of 330 articles per year. Kevin Ashton didn't just coin an interesting phrase. He foresaw the future of RFID Journal's coverage.

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