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RFID Trends: What's Ahead in 2017, Part 1

Leading solution providers speak out on the business and technology issues that will impact adoption in the near future.
By Jennifer Zaino
Jan 08, 2017

Since the founding of RFID Journal in 2002, we've watched people learn how to pronounce RFID (some said "ar-fid" and others "rif-id") and understand that it means radio frequency identification. We've seen early adopters develop business cases for using the technology, and have witnessed RFID go through the Gartner Hype Cycle—from the peak of inflated expectations, into the trough of disillusionment, up the slope of enlightenment and to a plateau of productivity in which many companies in myriad industries are achieving outstanding benefits.

As far as RFID has come, the journey is far from over. Which industries are rapidly advancing its adoption? What are the next wave of applications for this champion automatic identification technology? What innovations can we expect during the coming year? And what role will the technology play in a world increasingly influenced by the Internet of Things (IoT)?

To find out, RFID Journal asked leading experts in the field to provide their insights on the state of the RFID industry and a glimpse into the near future: Checkpoint Systems' Umesh Cooduvalli, Omni-ID's George E. Daddis, Jr., Impinj's Chris Diorio, SML Group's Dean Frew, NXP Semiconductors' Ralf Kodritsch, Avery Dennison's Francisco Melo, HID Global's Mark Robinton, Zebra Technologies' Chris Schaefer and Smartrac Technology Group's Christian Uhl.

Current State of RFID
It turns out that retail is top of almost everyone's mind. Chris Diorio, Impinj's CEO, points to Macy's recent announcement that by the beginning of 2017, the retail giant plans to RFID-tag more than 60 percent of all items in most of its stores, and to have 100 percent of all items in all stores tagged by year's end.

Macy's is taking a leading role here, but it isn't alone in advancing RFID in the retail space. Predictions made by ChainLink Research that more than 8 billion passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags would be sold worldwide in 2016—60 percent in the retail market—are pretty much on the mark, says Umesh Cooduvalli, Checkpoint's senior director of product management, based on the vendor's own market intelligence and first-hand conversations with RFID buyers.

"It is the retail industry [that is the highest adopter of RFID], and, to be more precise, it is mostly about tagging apparel," confirms Ralf Kodritsch, the segment manager of RFID solutions at NXP Semiconductors (which Qualcomm recently announced that it would acquire—see Qualcomm Buys NXP). And these apparel implementations are impressive, he reports: Many projects run in the hundreds of millions of RFID tagged items.

Adoption in apparel retail is being spurred by the clear return on investment, Kodritsch and other experts say. Retailers can drive higher sales by making sure they have the right product on the shelf, in the correct size and color, and at the same time lower their inventory costs due to a more accurate supply chain.

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