Is RFID in Your Future?
Forget the back burner — it's time to deal with the inevitable.
Standards are being ratified, chips are being built, inlays are being designed, and printers and readers are being tested. At this point, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is just looking for trouble.
As Bill Allen, director of strategic alliances for Dallas-based Texas Instruments (TI), stated, RFID, in most cases, is a solution waiting for a problem. He pointed out that for many people, RFID is just coming onto the radar screen, so they imagine that it's an emerging technology. "In some markets it is," Allen said, "but there are many mature markets for RFID—some right here in the United States."
For example, cars and trucks have been equipped with TI's RFID-enabled anti-theft devices for more than 10 years now, and the Exxon/Mobil Speedpass payment system was introduced eight years ago. In addition, he noted that the United States has been using RFID in the payment market for more than eight years, whereas Europeans are still utilizing the smart chip. "American Express is rolling out an RFID-enabled credit card later this year," continued Allen, "and Master Card and Visa are right behind them."
Thanks to the Wal-Mart mandate, the technology that came on the scene 15 years ago for livestock tracking in Europe to combat mad cow disease is about to revolutionize the retail market. "The retail industry has always been the Holy Grail of RFID because there are so many items moving through the supply chain," he said.
Another problem begging for an RFID solution exists within the pharmaceutical industry, where approximately 4 percent to 7 percent of all pharmaceuticals currently in the supply chain are counterfeit. "The FDA has strongly recommended that pharmaceutical manufacturers utilize RFID to create an electronic pedigree," reported Allen. "Read/write capabilities allow for label updating on the fly to show a chain of custody. The state of Florida has already mandated the electronic pedigree, which is being rolled out later this year."