RFID Academic Convocations Bridge Gaps

A recent event in Europe and an upcoming meeting, in conjunction with RFID Journal LIVE!, bring together end users, vendors and academics to address implementation issues.
Published: April 6, 2007

April 1, 2007—The RFID Academic Convocation was conceived as a way of bringing together researchers from the academic world with vendors and end users, in order to address current and future implementation issues. That vision is beginning to bear fruit. The fourth convocation took place in Brussels, March 13 and 14, and drew more than 300 participants. Speakers included policy makers, academics from top universities and industry leaders.

The event was attended by a wide variety of people: a European Commission (EC) director-general, an American under-secretary of state, senior advisors to the Chinese government, research students, professors, business managers and representatives from numerous consumer groups. Attendees, in fact, came from across Europe. “This broad spectrum just confirms the breadth and variety of interests captured by the exciting developments taking place in the use of RFID,” says Stephen Miles, a research scientist with the MIT Auto-ID Laboratory, which hosts the convocations. “This breadth was seen in the keynote speeches, presentations and research submissions about work in progress that were heard over the two very full days of the forum.”

Miles says the convocation showed that RFID has moved from the artificial heights of initial over-enthusiasm into a positive, sane and sensible stage of real developments and opportunities. Speakers such as Gerd Wolfram from Metro said RFID could create value for companies, not just reduce cost. But to reach complete item-level deployment, tag prices must fall to less than €0.01 ($.0133). That benchmark gives researchers something to focus on. Many researchers in both the commercial and academic sectors are looking at how to move from RFID tags using silicon microchips to ones that employ less expensive polymer integrated circuits.

The convocation web site has links to the presentations. And you can download the offical report on the event by clicking here.

The fifth RFID Academic Convocation will be held in conjunction with RFID Journal LIVE! 2007. It will also bring together a wide range of RFID expertise. The focus is on the health-care and life-sciences sector and will feature Carolyn Walton of Wal-Mart, Ron Bone of McKesson and Mike Rose of Johnson & Johnson explaining the issues that need to be addressed to enhance RFID’s value in the pharmaceutical supply chain, as well as where researchers can help devise new hardware or software to address that need.

Representatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will, for the first time, reveal the affects RFID interrogators have on pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators. Other researchers will reveal the results of research into the feasibility of implanting RFID transponders in medical devices, the use of UHF vs. HF transponders in health-care environments, the data standards and IT infrastructure needed to leverage RFID data and much more. View the full agenda.

What’s exciting is the collaboration now taking place between companies and academia. Wal-Mart recently announced plans to partner with the University of Arkansas and Blue Cross Blue Shield to create the Center for Innovation in Health Care Logistics, a research center focused on improving the health-care delivery system with the use of information technology. The center will be dedicated to conducting research aimed at identifying and addressing gaps and roadblocks in the application and delivery of health-information technology, highlighting and replicating proven applications that are working to benefit patients and providers. It will not focus solely on RDID, though the technology will play a part. And companies and consumers will be better off as a result of these kinds of collaborations.