20050202

RFID - you're in the Army now

Korea and the US are simultaneously pushing RFID the way they're used to push new technologies. Amerika focuses on sekurity applikations, targetting crossborder hoppers, drug dealers, Kerry voters and other terrorists (in other words : federal and military spendings will as usual show the money and accelerate the private sector's ROI), while Korea plans to maintain its R&D edge in mobility, the MIC leveraging on ETRI's work to launch a Mobile RFID Forum and get some handsets ready by 2007. Up to now, the biggest RFID lobby was EPC Global Inc, EPC standing for Electronic Product Code because the killer app used to be "revolutionize the barcode". Unlike that old tag, RFID provides an ID for each item and can be read at a distance of a few meters without being directly beamed at - some kind of a short range GPS. Provided your system covers the right areas with the right techno and the right links to the right databases, this can be the ultimate "spyware / spywear" all experts in tracking (retailers, marketers, supply chain managers, security managers, customs officers...) have been dreaming of for ages. A quick look at EPC Global's board and you meet major league marketers (Gilette, P&G, Johnson & Johnson), retailers (Wal*Mart, METRO), and pervasive computing heralds (HP, Cisco)... plus the office of the Secretary of Defense (bekause this is Amerika and this is where frequencies meet wallets).
As usual, mobile players seem remote. Yet, RFID being about Radio Frequency IDentification, every player with some ambition in the wireless and/or customer control fields has been keeping an eye on the issue. Some vendors already claim so called "mobile RFID solutions" (ie the chip triggering applications in Nokia's
Field Force Solution). The first MNOs which will come to it will have a strong marketing / commerce drive and a tradition of launching technos that are potentially "coopetitive" with theirs. Once again, you can bet a buck on Korea.



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