RFID Evangelists Rejoice
By George Anderson
Praise be, praise be… The day that proponents of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology have been waiting, if not praying for, appears to be close at hand – widespread adoption.
In the RFID Watch Weekly column on DCVelocity.com, John R. Johnson says that there is good reason for rejoicing in RFID circles.
For one, writes Mr. Johnson, the price of RFID tags and equipment is coming down. Avery Dennison has Gen 2 inlays that sell for 7.9 cents per unit for orders of a million units and up. UPM Rafsec is selling its Gen 1 and Gen 2 inlays at under a dime for orders of 50,000 pieces or more and Alien Technology has brought the cost of its Gen 1 labels down to 12.9 cents.
ABI Research analyst Erik Michielsen said, “These new low prices may represent loss-leaders. But when you tie them to the new products and services offered by software companies to help end-users make sense of their RFID data, and to the recent spate of EPC Gen 2 announcements, we may have a three-headed ‘benevolent monster’ that will promote demand.”
Other factors that promise to speed up adoption of RFID, writes Mr. Johnson, is increased access to Gen 2 equipment, positive results from tests conducted with the technology and answers to concerns about the mountains of data that RFID can capture.
“We’ve had those kinds of conversations with out customers, and we’re not of [the opinion] that the sky is falling and enterprise systems are going to get swamped with data,” said Ashley Stephenson, CEO and co-founder of RFID startup Reva Systems. “I think the industry has grown up from the early fears of data storms resulting from all the [data] from tag reads flowing back to some huge database in the sky and causing system overloads.”
New readers and support applications have made it so that companies can capture only that information that they need. Importantly, it is all done in real time.
Another promising development in RFID is the introduction of a new royalty-free software standard for using EPC technology known as the Application Level Events standard (ALE).
“The ALE concept is a critical component of the EPCglobal architecture in that it provides the first line of defense for enterprise systems against the onslaught of EPC tag data,” said Chantal Polsonetti, vice president at ARC Advisory Group. “As standards-based RFID middleware, ALE provides both a buffer to physical layer infrastructure activities and a platform for distributed edge computing.”
ARC’s Polsonetti says the software will eliminate labor associated with drilling down through the raw data to get to information that supply chain partners can use. It also provides a middleware driver platform to interface a variety of different devices used by enterprise systems.
Moderator’s Comment: Are the factors that have prevented the widespread use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology now gone? What do you
see as the current state of RFID use and where will the retail and related industries be with the technology over the next couple of years? –
George Anderson – Moderator