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Taiwan RFID Technology, Applications Showcased at International Exhibit

The TAITRA exhibit draws 60,000 potential buyers of RFID technology and includes 50 vendors sharing RFID technology developments.
By Claire Swedberg
Ma cited a three-year-old deployment of RFID in Taipei public schools that began with a pilot at Taipei's Nan Hu Elementary School, where RFID interrogators deployed at the school ground's gates track the arrival of students carrying active RFID tags. With the system, which utilizes IBM WebSphere software, parents can receive a message on their cell phone indicating when their child arrived at school. This, Ma said, was one example of how Taiwan was deploying RFID technology in innovative ways.

This year, the RFID conference attracted 60,000 potential buyers of RFID technology—more than twice the 25,000 who attended the 2007 event. In both years, the greatest buyer turnout has come from the United States, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. At the 2008 event, exhibitors include RFID vendors Texas Instruments Taiwan and J-Link technology, as well as Taiwan's Identification and Security Technology Center (ISTC).

Vendors are primarily exhibiting RFID tags, readers and printers, as well as system solutions, sensors and other RFID hardware. The exhibit floor is divided among the broadband, photovoltaic and RIFD vendors, with sufficient international attendees to make the common language a combination of English, Mandarin Chinese and multiple European and Asian languages.

Exhibit attendees originated from Asia, as well as Europe and North America, many migrating to the RFID show after initially attending presentations for broadband or consumer electronics offerings. Chris Gloger, digital multi-meter (DMM) product manager for Fluke Corp., a manufacturer of electronic test tools, says his initial reason for attending the Taipei International Electronics Show was to view the wireless technology. However, he says he was also curious to see what manufacturers provided in terms of RFID technology, which could then appear "downstream" among wireless solutions.

Frank Downes, chief executive officer of Grabba International, an Australian provider of RFID-enabled applications that work in conjunction with PDAs and smart phones, says attending the RFID Applications Show has enabled him to contact manufacturers capable of supplying technology his company could use for its athletics tracking systems. "I did find some things of interest," he says.

In addition to tags for schoolchildren, Taiwan's recent RFID pilots have also included a three-month NFC mobile phone contactless payment pilot conducted in the first quarter of 2008 by Chunghwa Telecom, in which users inserted SIM cards into NFC-enabled phones supplied by Taiwan-based handset maker BenQ. Participants tapped the phones to pay for fares on Taipei's metro and buses. Taipei Smart Card Corp. (now known as EasyCard Corp.) provided the EasyCard SIM technology for the trial.

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