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A Decade of Progress

An RFID evangelist, cheerleader and agent provocateur shares his views on the industry's failures and successes during the past 10 years.
By John Greaves
Some issues that require recognition, acceptance and addressing by the industry and users include:

1. Radio technologies are converging faster than was initially considered. The prohibitive framework that looked like a market-protection system (namely, radio regulation) has largely taken a back seat since the turn of the century—and, in fact, has contributed, with rapid advancements in non-interfering deliverables, to the convergence of technologies and the rapid adoption in the consumer-empowerment channels.

2. Active technology, with advances in battery deliverables, a lower cost of ownership and a simpler deployment model, has negatively impacted passive deliverables.

3. Both high-frequency (HF) and low-frequency (LF) deliverables have made significant inroads in the use models. HF use is an everyday growth story, and the stability of the source manufacturers in both LF and HF has led to increased adoption.

4. UHF has success stories that are increasingly found in closed-loop systems in which the EPC link is not being adopted, and the implemented cost, or establishment cost, is thus greatly reduced. This principle of an open, frequency-aligned deliverable, available to every industry no matter the data mode, is the model that GTAG created.

5. We must address the need for real-time location system (RTLS) deliverables in small spaces, and this need is being understood. The reality is that warehouse management system (WMS) positioning can create the same environment as a passive RFID system, in real time and in real space.

In conclusion, I see that the financial constraints of the past 30 months are loosening, and that investment monies are available, albeit with stricter ties and heavier costs. The cycle of time in which an innovator in wireless and radio technology can recover its investment, however, has shortened considerably.

I estimate, and my banking and market analyst friends concur, that the span from prototype to market must be less than one year, and that the market freshness and margin-protected timeline is no more than two years.

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