Why Is RFID the Next Big Thing?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsWhy Is RFID the Next Big Thing?
RFID Journal Staff asked 15 years ago

Why do you believe radio frequency identification to be the future in technology?


There are two main reasons. One is that the natural evolution of information technology is top-down, and the second is that there is no other way, besides RFID, for companies to become markedly more efficient. I'll explain both points.

If you consider the history of IT, it began with big mainframe computers where access to information was limited. With mainframes, only a small group of people had access to information. Minicomputers extended computer power into corporate departments, such as finance, marketing, engineering and so forth. PCs put access to information on everyone's desk. Now we have information on our phones and personal digital assistants.

The next step clearly seems to be to make objects smarter. This is already happening. My coffee maker can be set up to start the coffee as I'm in the shower. And my car tells me when the pressure in my tires is low. Why shouldn't boxes tell people when they've arrived, or where they are located in a warehouse?

Making objects smart also makes it possible to cut massive amounts of waste from our existing systems. Most companies will tell you they are highly efficient, but they aren't. People will spend hours each week searching for files in a law office, cartons in a warehouse, trailers in a distribution yard or medical equipment in a hospital.

When we have an outbreak of a food-borne illness, we don't recall the tainted product because we can't identify and track which products might be tainted. So we recall all beef or all greens that came out of a particular state believed to be the source of the outbreak. This is ridiculously inefficient and wasteful.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. So what technology out there can eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, this waste? It has to be a technology that is low-cost, non-intrusive and automatic. Some will say bar codes, and while bar codes have an important role to play, it is simply too expensive to pay people to scan a bar code each time an oxygen pump is moved in a hospital, for instance, or a book is moved in a library, or a box is moved in a warehouse. RFID systems can collect data automatically, and because of the advances in network technology, information regarding the location and status of just about anything can be made available to people instantly. This will bring unprecedented efficiencies.

That RFID is the next wave in the evolution of IT is so obvious to me, I have to wonder why the CEOs of most technology companies can't see it.

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