IDTechEx Reviews RFID Progress in 2007
Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., IDTechEx specializes in printed electronics, RFID and smart packaging, providing strictly independent marketing, technical and business advice and services on these subjects. Raghu Das, CEO/MD of IDTechEx, has been closely involved with the development of RFID and printed electronics for more than six years. Following are highlights from his report on how RFID use grew in the marketplace during 2007.
In round figures, the value of the RFID market grew strongly to $5 billion in 2007, mainly powered by a peak in deliveries of the Chinese national ID card, with about $2 billion of cards and infrastructure being delivered by Chinese suppliers. Globally, the RFID business remained government driven with the healthcare sector showing particularly strong growth in projects, and the financial, security and safety sector dwarfing all others in both expenditure and number of projects. Healthcare accounted for a massive 48 percent of market value with passenger transport and automotive coming second with 19 percent value share. (We refer to the value of tags, systems and support combined.)
Through 2007, the United States retained its lead in number of RFID projects, but China leapt from number five to number three, overtaking Japan and Germany. This tells us that there are a vast number of new RFID projects in China that will take up the slack now that the glory days of the national ID card are over. They are hugely varied—from people and construction materials to mail bags—and the prospect of having to tag 150 million pet dogs and 2.4 billion pigs yearly by law.
In number of projects, the financial,security and safety sector was the largest, at about 19 percent of the cumulative projects in 2007, in line with our identification of it as the leader in money spent. After that came the passenger transport, automotive sector, with 13 percent of all projects cumulatively. Those percentages were the same as in 2006. Just one applicational sector took significantly more of the pie by the end of 2007—healthcare. This was predicted in 2006, but it did not happen for the reason given—widespread tagging of drugs for anti-counterfeiting purposes. Many were in favour of the half measure of 2D barcodes for singulation. As a result, frequent automated checking for counterfeits, regardless of misorientation and obscuration, and with high integrity, will be a matter for interminable RFID trials and little more. Even the frequency remains undecided. The vibrant growth of RFID in the healthcare sector was mainly due to Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) on staff and assets, particularly those using existing WiFi systems in hospitals. There were also many other RFID technologies applied to healthcare, and they provided excellent paybacks and improvements to safety and security.