Still Crazy After All These Years

By Mark Roberti

Why I believe more passionately in radio frequency identification now than I did when I first launched RFID Journal, 10 years ago this week.

I launched RFID Journal out of a spare bedroom in my house. The first article was published 10 years ago this week, on Mar. 1, 2002. I believed then that radio frequency identification technology would be hugely important to businesses, enabling them to better track and mange goods within their supply chains. I knew that people would need information about the technology, and I decided I was going to be the one to provide it.

Not long after the initial articles began appearing on RFID Journal's Web site—I wrote the original HMTL code myself—a gentleman selling RFID systems e-mailed me to tell me I was crazy. "You will never make any money in the RFID industry," he wrote. "It's just too small." Many others also told me I was nuts, claiming RFID would never take off for one reason or another. I guess I'm still crazy after all these years.

The fact is, I believe in RFID more now than I ever have—I grossly underestimated the technology's importance when I started. Sure, RFID has the potential to track goods within the supply chain. But it can do so much more. Cisco Systems, for example, will offer a presentation at RFID Journal LIVE! 2012—being held on Apr. 3-5, at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin resort, located in Orlando, Fla.—detailing how the company is tracking data-center assets across its entire enterprise (see Cisco Tracks IT Assets Via RFID).

In addition, Mission Hospital will discuss how RFID is improving its asset-utilization rates (see Mission Hospital Improves Equipment Utility Rate). Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will explain how it is utilizing the technology to track 2 million costumes and garments across 40 locations. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will explain how it is employing RFID to capture data regarding vibrations, as well as gauge acoustic emissions, during rocket launches at Florida's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (see NASA Launches RFID to Track Vibrations).

John Deere will reveal how it increased the efficiency of its replenishment of welding materials, as well as how the firm carries out processes at its assembly stations (see John Deere Planter Factory Gains Efficiency). Dow Chemical will explore how it is using a combination of the latest RFID and automatic-identification technologies, sensors and Web-based software to monitor the real-time location, security status and environmental conditions of in-transit shipments of highly hazardous materials (see Dow Monitors Hazardous Rail Shipments in Real Time). Steelcase will explain how it utilizes the technology to help its customers configure and manage office assets (see Steelcase Mexico's RFID Solutions Help Banks Manage Assets). And Bombardier Transportation will show how its RFID system improves the safety of workers inspecting railway tracks (see Tracking Track Workers for Safety).

None of these applications were ones that I, or anyone else, envisioned 10 years ago.

There will be many other case studies as well, including those from American Apparel, Bell Helicopter Textron, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), JV Driver, Morgan Thermal Ceramics Mexico, Rockwell Collins and the U.S. Air Force. These sessions will show the benefits of more conventional RFID applications in retail, manufacturing and supply chain applications.

It's clear to me now that radio frequency identification will eventually be part of just about everything—all manufactured products—and that there will always be new and innovative ways to use it to achieve business and other benefits. But it will take time for the technology to become ubiquitous, just as it took from the 1950s until the 1990s for microchips to grow from concept to ubiquity.

As I look back on the past 10 years, I think of all the people who developed RFID standards, built RFID products and proved the benefits of using the technology in various applications. They did all the hard work, and I was able to enjoy writing about their efforts and results. The next decade, no doubt, will be more productive—and more profitable—for all involved.

I may be crazy, but I look forward to covering every new development for RFID Journal.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.