Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

RFID Power to the People

Want consumers to accept the technology? Give them applications that make their lives easier.
By Kevin Ashton
Oct 01, 2008—This fall, Ford Motor Co. began offering Tool Link as an option in its F-Series pickup trucks. The new feature uses RFID technology to keep a real-time inventory of tagged tools stored in the back of the truck. The system also notifies the driver if anything gets left behind. Next year, Ford plans to expand the feature to its E-Series vehicles. Tool Link is not exactly a consumer application—it's designed to help people do their jobs—but it is a rare example of RFID for individuals rather than businesses.

There is one RFID consumer application—aside from things like passports, where nobody has a choice—that a large number of individuals are choosing to use: electronic toll-collection systems. Roughly 10 million RFID tags are in use in cars around the world, under programs such as E-ZPass in the United States and Liber-T in France. It costs around $30 or €30 to buy a tag for one of these systems.

Why are so many people willing to pay so much for one RFID tag? Because the benefits are simple and immediate: speed and convenience. While other motorists wait in long lines and fumble for the correct change, RFID-enabled drivers whiz through exclusive lanes that read their RFID tags and automatically deduct tolls from their account balances. In newer systems, they don't even have to slow down. New York's Tappan Zee Bridge, for example, has RFID lanes that work at 40 mph, and Florida's Tampa Crosstown Expressway Bridge collects tolls from cars moving at normal highway speeds.

There are big benefits for the roads' owners, too: In addition to getting revenue from selling the tags, they speed up their toll collection and reduce congestion. While a manual tollbooth can process 400 cars per hour, RFID systems can handle as many as 2,200, without the need for a human toll collector.

What does this tell us about the spread of RFID in the consumer market? First, consumers will pay for an RFID application that delivers value, such as hours of saved time. Second, consumers don't care that it's RFID—whether that means the much-hyped shiny new technology that will take over the world, or the privacy-ending mark-of-the-beast technology foretold in the Book of Revelation. Most people don't own anything shinier or more private than their cars, yet motorists aren't wrapping them in tinfoil when they aren't taking toll roads.

The lesson seems clear: What consumers value is value. If an RFID application delivers real value, issues such as price and privacy won't matter so much. I expect Ford's new venture will produce good results in time. Showing up at a construction site with the wrong tools, spending extra time looking for the right tools, or losing tools altogether sounds every bit as inconvenient as sitting in a long toll line hunting for quarters.

Kevin Ashton was cofounder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center.
To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 478 words and 1 page. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations