Back to the Future
According to IDTechEx, RFID on pharmaceuticals may constitute approximately 60 percent of all item-level tagging in the world by 2010 because of its many advantages, including saving lives, preventing sickness and reducing theft and fraud.
Hang tags for garments are another opportunity where item-level tagging can thrive. “Although there certainly are a number of markets that can benefit from RFID, in the printed label industry, you’ll see it first in high-value articles. It’s easy to justify a .15 cent or .20 cent tag on a pair of $80 jeans than it is on a .39 cent can of peaches,” Ryan insisted. He continued to relate trials occurring in Europe where RFID tags are being inserted on the insoles of shoes.
As evidenced by the retail and pharmaceutical markets, most of the applications for RFID are in the disposable area. “As things progress, there will be more reusable applications for asset tracking and inventory tracking. Also, I see those things moving into more specific applications where you might get tamper-indicating applications,” Davis said. This is currently big in the freight and import business.
Furthermore, sensors or indicators for monitoring temperature are gaining popularity. If blood bags or other perishable items are being monitored, RFID tags become smarter because they are integrated with other data-collecting information, Davis said.
It is no secret that RFID has experienced its share of flaws as more companies begin to incorporate it into their business practices. BBC News recently reported smart radio tags are capable of spreading viruses. Security researchers in the computer science department at Amsterdam’s Free University successfully infected an RFID tag with a computer virus in their attempt to prove the technology’s vulnerability to hackers. Manufacturers of radio tag systems were urged to provide safeguards against these viruses. Subsequent releases have tried to reduce the controversy.