RFID: Can it help your business?

Summary:In 10 years almost everything will be tagged, say the experts. So what are these little chips that are soon to be so pervasive, and how will they take over your business?

Starving for standards
Secrets and trials
Chipping the chains
RFID a real asset
Future potential
Executive summary

Future potential
Privacy implications may inhibit the adoption of item tagging, so potential users need to work with standards bodies and legislators, says Lessmoellmann.

As a result, public education will be necessary to explain to people that the tags simply identify items and there are ways of removing or disabling them.

As the tags get come down in price, there will be more opportunities to deploy RFID, says Hudson. He says a law firm could tag documents to track them around the practice -- but "we have to be careful not to get into a complete Big Brother approach," he warns.

"It is a long-term process. The real winners are going to be the innovative companies that take the lead in adopting [RFID]."
Habraken says "that's a pretty important application" and notes the development of ink-based antennas printed directly onto documents so that only the chip itself needs to be attached to the paper.

Hudson also points out the opportunity to optimise store layouts by using RFID tags on items, trolleys, or baskets to track people's movements around a store with the aim of optimising the layout, or to locate readers at exits to help reduce "shrinkage" caused by staff or customers. Item tagging also has the ability to simplify the handling of returned goods.

Volume adoption of RFID in Australia is unlikely until around 2010, says Barrows. Dawes is a little more optimistic, predicting supply-chain infrastructure will peak a year or two earlier, although he suggests item-level won't be viable until 2009 with broad use occurring in 2011 or 2012.

Taleb, on the other hand, tips a large-scale supply chain adoption within at least one industry in two to four years -- the lower end of that prediction assumes government pressure or some other trigger.

Almost everything will be tagged in eight to 10 years, predicts Habraken, and these tags will be widely used -- perhaps even in homes. Maybe the smart fridge that can remind you to buy milk on the way home from work really will materialise.

Topics: Processors, Security

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