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BusinessWorks Inc - A Dotcom in making

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The hype can prevent us seeing the forest for the trees, or the leaves for that matter

Tuesday, February 08, 2005
RFID must be the pinnacle to all technologies. With Wal*Mart, Target, and the Department of Defense all agreeing on implementation for various application, it must be the next big thing. Let's take a step back from all the hype and understand what is really going on here. Before any technology may truly proliferate, standards must be set and agreed upon, deployed, and enforced. The Department of Motor Vehicles enforces and controls government mandated standards for identifying vehicles and matching them with the identity of their owners. The internationally accepted standard of TCP/IP allows millions of nodes to be identified and networked. EPC Global is creating standards, among them is the task of identity related standardization of individual RFID tags and readers. A six-character license plate without the database with correlating VIN numbers, expiration stickers, associated taxes, and local law enforcement system is merely a scrap of metal. A networked powerful workstation with a network card is going nowhere online without the routers and fiber optics pushing ones and zeros to IP addresses. Therefore, RFID tags without antennas, middleware, object naming servers, a network, and business applications are simply hype.

Each system has key components in common. The greatest common denominators are identity association, a networked infrastructure, and policies that are agreed upon and compulsory. Please note, at no point have I said any of these systems are either effective or enjoyable. It is up to the masochistic early adopters of this elusive new technology and systems to pioneer the next identity system, infrastructure, work through the standards, find out the balance of policies, and somehow make a profit in the meantime. We all have ROI hanging over our heads no matter how much hype revolves around RFID regardless of industry reports potential of more than $3B forecasted by 2008.

Make no mistake about it; whether you are talking a single can of Coke or the infamous sub dermal embedded Digital Angel Chip, this evolutionary step is being taken personally. Groups like CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) are doing their best to fight the system in the name of society, privacy, and consumer rights. Fortune 100 Companies are scrutinizing massive amounts of data and making major business decisions in the name of efficiency, consumer spending habits, and the ever-looming ROI graph.

Focusing on the primary issue of radio frequency identity systems without considering all the revolving issues is nearly impossible. However when you take into account the identity association, a networked infrastructure, and policies you are looking at much more than RFID tags and readers. As technology and business truly merge into the latest buzz word of the pervasive network or even the adaptive enterprise more than RFID is on the horizon. Sensor based networks enabled by grid networked computing will experience a tsunami of data. The proliferation of this movement is obviously starting with supply chains and will migrate in directions we can only dream of today. This overwhelming amount of data will be valuable, private, and necessary to business and individuals. Few in the industry today doubt the coming of a new age of identity technology; we simply do not know exactly how it will come to be. From a high level the adaptive enterprise, or pervasive technology will be the forest with network of sensor based networks at various levels of maturity while the massive amount of tags, or leaves to follow the analogy, will be the other end of the spectrum. Yes, the leaves vary in shape, size, frequency, passive, active, and so on. But to only focus on the lowest level without regarding the way global ecosystems will eventually have to coincide is, well, hype.
2/08/2005 11:02:00 AM :: ::


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