RFID 10 Years In


MIT Auto-ID Center event attendees and speakers reflect on launch of RFID and what’s in store for the future.


Dozens of professionals gathered at MIT to celebrate and discuss the history and future of RFID.
Both ‘historical’ figures from RFID past as well as new young innovators presented and had demonstrations and booths at this event. Unlike yesterday’s world of the Auto-ID Center of MIT — focused just on getting UHF as a standard for retail supply chain — today’s world is really a wireless world.

Tom Coyle, MIT Sig Event Chair; MIT Auto-ID Center co-founders Sanjay Sarma and David Brock;
and Joe Andraski, President of VICS

The speakers covered a range of topics including cell phones with NFC (soon to have millions of phones with this close range tap-and-go technology), and sports timing and tracking with longer range RFID.

Issues that have changed over time:

  • Privacy and Security: Today, due to innovations in technology, smart, secure devices are trusted by credit card and payment systems around the world. And the new demographic of young shoppers and working professionals has embraced all sorts of sharing technologies. Remember, there was no Face Book in 2002. Square, NXP chips and all those apps! None of that existed either in 2002.
  • Standards: RFID used to be used for propriety industrial solutions for the few. Now we have worldwide standards for every frequency. ISO, GS1, and VICS’ ongoing industry work, and secure information transfer has enabled global trading partners to integrate in our virtual, mobile, and wireless world.
  • Industry Adoption: Used from retail to sports — companies like IPICO and Dag Systems in sports come to mind; and in healthcare, companies like Wavemark and Acsis come to mind.
  • Data Management: Tiny data sets have been replaced by Visual Intelligence and highly dense data tags that can carry anything from operating instructions to an entire product pedigree. Tego and Omni-ID come to mind in this new intelligent supply chain world.

Though major discussions did center on the discouraging aspects of market growth — the hype vs. the reality — there is an RFID market. Although the market is smaller than we all would have liked, there is a market. And it is growing.

The technology is accessible to everybody, incredibly effective and at great price points. That is the real revolution — not just in RFID but across the whole tech world. Apps development on platforms from web to mobile to intelligent device management is making technology accessible, and its usage is a transforming presence in society.

To view other articles from this issue of the brief, click here.

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