Aug 01, 2011When it comes to radio frequency identification, imagination has no bounds. Originally targeted at tracking and managing pallets, cases, containers and other assets in the supply chain, RFID is now rapidly expanding into areas the technology's original developers never could have imagined. Emerging applications are appearing in a wide range of fields—from the arts and education to social networking and travel— as RFID breaks free of its supply-chain roots and heads into uncharted territories.
For anyone who has watched RFID technologies steadily gain power and sophistication over the past decade or so, the technology's move into new and exciting applications seems like a logical and natural progression.
"When it first started, it was all about 'I'm going to take this RFID solution and I'm going to show it to everyone and I'm going to get into every market I can!'" says Drew Nathanson, director of research operations for VDC Research. "Then it kind of started moving toward, 'It's just too big and broad of a market; I need to have some specialization and some focus.'" Today, narrow verticals are in vogue. "This has been evolving over time, and now you have these polished solutions that are really easy to get into," he says.
As RFID increasingly inserts itself into an ever-growing number of specialized fields, the technology has become an essential part of daily life for all sorts of people, not just logistics administrators, manufacturing supervisors and warehouse managers. Consider, for example, how New Zealand livestock farmers are using RFID to ensure food safety. Or the way Dutch researchers are pioneering the development of life-enhancing—and lifesaving—sensor-based medical technologies.
We hope you'll enjoy this peek into RFID's boundless future—and that it will spark an idea or two for ways in which you can employ the technology. Subway track workers, for example, may soon be a lot safer because Keith Sheardown, former general manager of Bombardier's transportation technology solutions unit, attended RFID Journal LIVE! Canada, in December 2007. While learning about the technology, he was inspired to use RFID to improve rail worker. "You never know when or where a good idea will strike you," Sheardown says.
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