Apr 25, 2011Each year, providers of radio frequency identification technologies introduce new products and services at our RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition. This year was no exception, but it was clear, from the number and quality of new offerings, that the pace of innovation is accelerating. That's good news for companies looking to utilize the technology to better track and manage assets, containers, equipment, people, products, vehicles and more. Here's a small sampling of some new products and services that were on display in our exhibit hall.
First, I think it's clear that more businesses are offering complete solutions. A few years ago, a company that wanted to employ RFID to track items had to purchase tags and readers separately, as well as develop new software or figure out how to modify existing systems to take advantage of the data that RFID provides.
Rush Tracking Systems, for example, demonstrated its VisiblEdge solution, which consists of an RFID forklift truck reader and software, combined with a forklift truck positioning system from Sky-Trax. The result is a solution that automates many common business processes within a warehouse, and virtually eliminates the manual errors that can occur when an employee forgets to scan bar codes, or to record where items were moved within that facility. The system can locate the forklift's position to within a foot or so, thereby enabling the precise tracking of assets' movements.
ODIN, a provider of RFID solutions, received a great deal of attention for the social-media application it designed for those using the company's EasyConnect software. The system allowed attendees to log in to "Like" a session or upload a photo taken at RFID Journal's booth. ODIN also introduced EasySpecimen, an RFID solution designed to automate tracking and data entry in pathology labs.
Avery Dennison Retail Brand Information Systems showed off its end-to-end supply chain capabilities, with its partners, as part of the GS1 US RFID Apparel Demo. Avery Dennison showcased its ability to print and apply tags, as well as track them through to the store floor and the point of sale. The company also offers solutions for brand protection and management of RFID data for retail partners.
Tagsys displayed a complete solution for tracking apparel items within a warehouse, including a tunnel reader and software. And NXP Semiconductors demonstrated a variety of solutions, including those for tracking clothing, surgical sponges and wine.
Two of our Best in Show finalists for this year's RFID Journal Awards offer complete solutions as well. Identec Solutions teamed up with InSync Software to create an RFID-enabled system for tracking drinks at liquor establishments. And Biolog-ID unveiled a solution for tracking blood.
Of course, there were also some impressive new readers and tags on display at the event, which will become part of complete solutions. Currently, companies can find tags for almost any object or application, interrogators that can read them and software that can turn RFID data into useful business information
Microelectronics Technology (MTI), for instance, showed off a USB reader and software that turns any laptop into a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Gen 2 RFID reader. And Convergence Systems Ltd. displayed a thin shelf reader that carefully controls the read field, in order to prevent the system from interrogating tags on a shelf above or to the sides. This is extremely valuable, for example, for firms tracking when jewelry items are removed and returned to a shelf.
Omni-ID has collaborated with Holland 1916, a manufacturer of high-quality industrial identification products, to develop two passive UHF RFID tags designed specifically for industrial workplaces. The resultant 360° tag is encased in an industrial steel frame with a circle, allowing it to be affixed to hoists and cables used in the oil and gas sector, as well as other heavy industries. The Forte tag is similar, but has a weldable steel frame so that it can be welded or bolted to assets.
There were many other great products on display as well, which will help make radio frequency identification easier to deploy. That means a growing number of companies will deploy RFID systems to solve their business problems. Based on the innovative products on display at LIVE! 2011, I think it's likely that vendors will continue pouring some of that revenue back into new product developments, which will make deploying even easier. That virtuous cycle will inevitably lead to RFID entering the tornado—Moore's term for a period of wide adoption.
If you attended the conference, I encourage you to comment on this article and mention any products that particularly impressed you.
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.