RFID World 2007: Is RFID Ready?


For years, the keynote speaker of CMP Technology's RFID World 2007 conference in Grapevine, Tex., said, he's been listening to people ask if it was finally going to take off.

"This technology really is ready now. There have been tremendous advances in the last few years. What we can do with the technology today is radically different from what we could do a few years ago," Ashton said, beginning a demonstration of his company's latest tag reader, dubbed the Mercury 5.

To convince attendees that RFID technologies had come a long way, Ashton and ThingMagic CTO Yael Maguire demonstrated the reader's efficiency tracking a person moving around the conference hall as well as its performance in a can and in a glass of water, demonstrating tracking through obstacles, "none of which would have been possible probably a year ago," said Ashton.

The ThingMagic duo's demonstrations followed keynote speaker Robert Willett, CEO of Best Buy International, who discussed how the retail electronics company has used RFID to track goods in its warehouses and stores. "The customer reaction was phenomenal. The number of visits that didn't result in a sale fell by 40 percent," he said.

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"We think we're at a breakthrough point. We think the industry and where it's at around hardware and software is really starting to optimize," said Willett. "RFID is going to take time but it is going to get there."

The real benefit is to the customer, who was better able to find products as the store could better mange its stock. "This is how we believe RFID will change what it is and how it is people shop," he said. "If we can track product better, which we've been able to do, that ends up in an improved customer experience and that's been driving everything."