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RFID is now mainstream

RFID is in the 'early adopter stage' according to analysts, but many are looking beyond the current tech to the next-generation possibilities
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

RFID is now the mainstream, according to industry figures released today, and by 2015 it'll be time for the next generation of the technology.

Speaking at the RFID ROI Summit in London on Tuesday, Nigel Montgomery, director of European research at AMR Research, said the track-and-trace technology is now starting to reach maturity and businesses are clamouring for it.

"The reality is RFID... has come on in leaps and bounds," he said. "There's been a lot of hype around what RFID might be able to do for you... but the reality is there's a business need there."

"When people say [RFID] is immature... that is an incorrect statement," he added. "We're now in the early adopter stage."

Sesh Murthy, director of IBM's RFID and sensors unit, said that by 2015 all processes will use RFID.

"I don't know how we will get from here to 2015 but the technology will change," he said. As well as a revamp of RFID readers, "back-end systems will change, the processes that use RFID aren't set in stone," he added.

However, with most CIOs now at least looking into the chip technology if not actively implementing it, the RFID pioneers are turning towards the next generation of the technology, dubbed 'super RFID'.

AMR Research's Montgomery said: "The truth is the technology has moved on immeasurably in the last three years" and now "sensor technologies" are being added to the RFID mix.

"There will be other sensors [coming to RFID] -- temperature sensors, weight sensors," IBM's Murthy said.

Super RFID will essentially be a sensor network or sensor telemetry. Instead of passive tags, which simply store information, sensor networks can be used to monitor conditions and record that data, and, if necessary, set off an alert if a condition moves beyond certain criteria.

Sensor networks could be used to monitor temperature-sensitive materials and send a text alert to a mobile phone if the material's temperature moves beyond its set range, for instance.

Super RFID is already being used. BP is working with Accenture on a sensor network to look after its rail cars.

As well as keeping track of a car's whereabouts with GPS, the sensors monitor a car's temperature, weight and whether it has been hit or knocked.

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