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Innovation Has Just Begun

As RFID reaches maturity and adoption begins to spread, companies are finding innovative ways to use the technology.
By Mark Roberti
We also wrote about four Korean businesses that have employed an innovative RFID-enabled pick-to-light (PTL) system (see Korean Warehouses Deploy RFID-Enhanced Pick-to-Light System). Unlike conventional PTL systems, which direct employees to the correct product to select from a warehouse by illuminating it with an LED, the RFID system is automated. Workers don't need to scan bar codes, and when mistakes are made, employees can be alerted immediately.

Two weeks ago, we wrote about Hach Lange, a German manufacturer of devices used by water-treatment facilities and municipalities to analyze water. The company provides chemicals that are placed into vials with water samples, and a spectrophotometer that analyzes the light passing through the liquid to determine its purity. The firm released a version of its new spectrophotometer that utilizes RFID to acquire data related to the chemicals that the company provides for water testing, enabling the instrument to automatically update its configuration for those chemicals (see Hach Lange Incorporates RFID in Water Testers).

And we wrote about the New York Stock Exchange's plans to employ an active real-time location system (RTLS) to track handheld computers. The system will ensure that traders do not pass from one trading floor to another with laptops or tablets, which could potentially lead to an unauthorized transaction (see New York Stock Exchange to Track Traders Via RFID).

What these applications have in common is that they have nothing to do with what RFID was touted for just a few years ago—namely, tracking cases and pallets in the supply chain. So while I continue to be frustrated by the lack of vision demonstrated by many overpaid CEOs, I am also sure we are about to see a wave of innovation in terms of the ways in which RFID is used, that will then lead to applications none of us have even dreamed of.

Ain't free markets beautiful?

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.


Kevin Payne 2011-05-24 06:37:34 PM
Senior Director of Marketing Mark, I think many companies are just beginning to envision new solutions involving RFID. I'm seeing a lot of very intriguing applications - many of which I could not have conceived of - where RFID may be the only way to solve particular problems. The industry should have good years ahead.

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