Needful “Things” (Pt. 2)

by Kim Loughead
Director, Product & Solutions Marketing

(To read the first part of this blog post, click here.)

Will we find this technology in cereal boxes? I doubt it. Active tags, which are four times more expensive than passive tags, emit a signal that can be picked up from a distance. There are so many other low-cost ways to track products today that to add the cost of RFID-enabled disposable packaging, unless there is a significant upside on market knowledge, would be silly. RFID has really struggled precisely because of this—the cost/benefit ratio for the lion’s share of products is just not there.

To put it another way: whether a given “thing” deserves to be in the “Internet of Things” (IoT) will depend on whether there is some risk associated with the product not being a part of the IoT, and this is especially true of items susceptible to diversion and/or improper use. But another element to consider, one not so immediately obvious, will be market intelligence, how gathering data about a particular product will enable manufacturers to gain market knowledge so they can sell more, make the product better, or potentially break into a different market.

That type of application makes sense. As RFID becomes more mainstream, it will evolve. Today, it’s still very pigeonholed around supply chain efficiency efforts and asset tracking. That’s where it’s stuck. The economy has all but killed a lot of these efforts—they’re considered cute science projects, not revenue generators. But as the economy comes back a little bit, these projects will get their funding back, and the science-fictiony world that folks at Supply Chain Digest predict will come one step closer to reality.

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