RFID Exotica — A Ubiquitous Enabling Technology
By Dr Peter Harrop
At IDTechEx, when we teach Radio Frequency Identification RFID, we talk of it being a ubiquitous enabling technology like the wheel or paper. Some people consider that to be rather far fetched. After all, wheels extend from prayer wheels, steering wheels and wheels of fortune to aircraft wheels and microscopic wheels in Micro Electro Mechanical Systems MEMS. They are everywhere, as is paper because that appears as anything from art to toilet paper, packaging, books and origami.
However, RFID is now used from Bulgaria to Namibia, from Azerbaijan to Vietnam and Antarctica. It is a life to death experience because it is on containers of sperm and new born babies but it also marks burial plots. The Federal Emergency Management Agency in the USA puts RFID on corpses. Somewhere in between, RFID traces anodes in copper smelters and controls paedophiles. There are well over 10,000 RFID projects out there and there are over 1000 suppliers that have now landed substantial orders for the specialist RFID hardware and services involved. Yet things have barely started. For examples, 50,000 libraries should be tagging everything for many benefits but only 500 (1%) have done so as yet.
The IDTechEx RFID Knowledgebase has captured over 2300 cases of RFID in action involving over 2500 organisations in 85 countries. That includes all the examples we have mentioned above. We are now adding cases at twice the rate of one year ago as RFID truly permeates the whole planet.
RFID is monitoring the post in Algeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina and it being used in the Philippines in the form of Stored Value Cards SVCs to replace cash and reduce queues. Road tolling is a use in Slovakia. For proof of ownership it is on reindeer in Lapland. In precious wild plants in New Zealand, it has led to arrests under conservation orders. RFID tags on prepared sushi meals in Japan permit the staff to automate payment and stocktaking but in Antarctica it has enabled research on the behaviour of penguins. In Thailand, they like to put RFID on chickens for disease control and they use it in cock fighting. In South Africa, RFID tracks ore but in Turkey they encounter it as a loyalty card.