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Innovation on Display
There are a wealth of RFID applications that most of us have only just begun to consider.
Aug 01, 2011—Many years ago, shortly after I founded RFID Journal, I was speaking with a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company, who really didn't seem to get radio frequency identification technology. I explained that it was not just a "radio bar code," but a means of allowing computers to interact with the real world. "I don't think we've even begun to imagine the many ways this technology will be deployed," I said. Alas, I failed to convince him or to stimulate his creative juices.
Today, the world can be divided into three camps: Those who still don't get RFID. Those who get it but work at conservative companies that won't adopt the technology until everyone else is using it. And those who not only get it but are figuring out new and innovative ways to employ it.
Our goal in presenting this smorgasbord of applications is to stimulate creativity—to encourage executives to think about the technology in new ways. A few years ago at RFID Journal LIVE!, our annual conference and exhibition in the United States, I was surprised to see a couple of aerospace executives coming out of the retail track and a few pharmaceutical executives attending the Food and Agriculture preconference. But now, it's common for some attendees at our LIVE! events in the United States as well as Europe to take the opportunity to hear speakers from other sectors. Clearly, savvy businesspeople understand that you can learn from what other industries are doing.
Could an RFID system used by the U.S. Forest Service to detect wildfires be adapted to ensure that servers in a data center never overheat? Could a system like the one NASCAR deployed to make sure racing teams use only regulation auto parts reduce counterfeiting of airplane parts? Could a networking or customer service application boost retail sales that haven't picked up since the recession? I don't know for sure, but I do know that Bombardier, one of the world's largest train manufacturers, began developing its RFID track-safety solution after it heard about BP using RFID to improve worker safety at its oil refineries.
The myriad RFID applications described in our cover story make for fun and intriguing reading. But more important, they exemplify a wealth of applications most of us have only just begun to consider. I hope our cover story will expand your interest in the technology's potential.
Photograph: Tom Hurst
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