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Observations From RFID Journal LIVE! 2011

What a long strange trip it's been...
By Sue Hutchinson
May 02, 2011When you attend the same conference every year, you can become jaded—or, at the very least, suffer from reduced expectations. So it was on Apr. 12, as I rode the monorail from the gates at Orlando International Airport to the main terminal, en route to my eighth speaking appearance at the annual RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition.

From my vantage point at EPCglobal US, I knew good things have been happening in the RFID industry, but when I arrived at LIVE! 2011, I was surprised at the breadth and depth of positive momentum that I saw.

Attendance was up this year, but—more important—there was so much more being shared by end-user companies that have taken up radio frequency identification technologies (EPC-enabled, in particular) and made RFID part of their business environments. For the first time, the bulk of the talks focused on business processes and the returns that users are bringing to their businesses through the use of RFID, rather than on the nuts and bolts of making the technology work.

Chris Diorio, the chairman and CTO of Impinj (a longtime supporter of GS1 and EPCglobal standards), and the winner of this year's RFID Journal Award for Special Achievement, helped me put all of this in perspective. During his acceptance speech, Chris regaled the audience with his tale of demonstrating the readability of 40 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 passive RFID tags on stage at a conference, involving a large Plexiglas box hooked up to a high-speed carpet blower and tags attached to pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. He and I spent hours trying to get that demo to work, at one of the early EPCglobal US conferences, in September 2005. It really was an era of experimentation and exploration.

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