Mar 26, 2012Radio frequency identification technology has come a long way—much longer, in fact, than most people realize. How do I know this? Because I was surprised by some of the entries submitted for our 2012 Best in Show award—which will be presented as part of the RFID Journal Awards at this year's RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, to be held on Apr. 3-5, 2012—as well as for our Coolest RFID Demo contest. And I follow this industry ever day.
For a list of award finalists, see Finalists Unveiled for Sixth Annual RFID Journal Awards. And to learn more about the planned demonstrations, see RFID Journal Introduces 'Coolest RFID Demo' Contest. I'll discuss a few of these below.
One challenge that companies face is associating tagged items on, say, a store shelf with a particular location. Most solutions involve reading a location tag, which indicates where tags are read, but this can be imprecise since a person might pick up a location tag on the shelf next to the one being scanned. Convergent Systems has created a real-time location system (RTLS) plug-in for handheld RFID readers, so a user can determine the device's precise location and thus can associate tag reads with that location.
Produce firms want to know when lettuce and other perishables are exposed to temperatures outside an acceptable range, in order to reduce the incidence of spoilage. RFID sensors can help, but they only work when a tag is in the vicinity of a reader. Intelleflex has addressed this problem with its Best in Show entry, which has yet to be publicly released.
Companies want to know what is happening within store fixtures, but they do not want to manually perform inventory counts every hour or so. With this in mind, Seeonic developed a SightWare electronics module that automatically captures RFID tag data for consumer products within a fixture. The information is uploaded to the cloud, where authorized personnel can log in to view real-time inventory data and receive replenishment recommendations from Seeonic's Seeniq decision-support tool.
Other Cool Demos will involve indestructible tags (from Holland 1916, Xerafy and Hong Kong RFID), ultrathin door-frame antennas (from Times-7), and a Near Field Communication (NFC) booster that lets a user shrink an NFC device so it can be put into a microSD or SIM card slot in any cell phone (from Austriamicrosystems).
A number of interesting demonstrations will appeal to retailers interested in leveraging RFID—Smart Surfaces that allow for automatic inventorying of goods placed on them (from Intelligent Loss Prevention), a virtual fitting room that lets a customer try on any item identified via RFID (from Keonn Technologies) and an RFID anti-theft tag with a smart detacher that records precisely when a tag was removed, in order to reduce internal shrinkage (from Retailers Advantage). And SimplyRFID will show how it can make surveillance video searchable by linking timestamps to the serial numbers of RFID transponders affixed to items frequently stolen.
In addition, there will be a number of demonstrations focused on specific applications. RFID Global Solution, for example, will demonstrate IT asset tracking and medical device tracking systems. InSync Software will show how it can track the temperature within a football helmet or a hazmat suit. And there will be numerous demos showing hot to locate tags more precisely, or how to monitor tag movements.
I could go on, but the point is that radio frequency identification is rapidly evolving. Solutions providers are developing new products to meet the needs of end users looking to use the technology in a wide variety of applications. Chances are, if you're considering an RFID system to solve a business issue, you will find a solution at LIVE! 2012 to meet your needs. I hope to see you there—and don't forget to vote for the Coolest RFID Demo.
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.