RFID, a technology plagued by cost and privacy in the business world, has begun to enter the sports world quietly. At present, wearable RFID chips have been widely used in marathon and triathlon, tracking the time of competitors in the competition. FIFA and Adidas Solomon AG are developing a kind of football with RFID chip inside, hoping to accurately judge whether the ball is out of bounds.
In addition, the Jacksonville suns also provide a watch band with a built-in RFID chip in minor league baseball games to realize cash free payment for food and drinks. With this kind of watch band, not only the purchase speed has increased, but also the per capita expenditure of the audience has increased by 10% according to a test. Nashville sounds, another minor league baseball team, also deployed the system in May 2005.
After MasterCard and visa, American Express Co. began to issue payment cards with RFID chips since June 2005. However, such cards require the store to pre install RFID readers. 7-Eleven Inc. and CVs Corp. plan to accept the new credit card. "The problems that these cases need to solve are much simpler than those faced by the consumer goods and retail industries." Jeff woods, an analyst at Gartner, a market research firm, said.
RFID has also become one of Robert Bosch tools Corp.'s sales strategies. The company mainly sells expensive power tools to replace traditional construction work. In April 2004, Robert Bosch electric tools began to provide gears with built-in RFID chips, as well as readers and software to track RFID usage and place of use. RFID may increase the cost of products by 2% - 5%, but for the construction industry, the annual cost due to tool theft is expected to reach US $1 billion.
RFID technology has appeared for decades. Why do these new application trends suddenly appear recently? In fact, the rapid development of RFID in recent years is partly due to the ambitious, industry wide RFID action promoted by organizations such as Wal Mart, Metro and the US Department of defense. To a certain extent, their actions have promoted the development of passive RFID chips and the development of standards. Passive chips do not need batteries and are activated as they pass through the reader. The requirements put forward by these organizations make all walks of life begin to fully understand RFID. Total sales of RFID readers, tags, software and services are expected to exceed $5 billion in two years, compared with $2.1 billion in 2005 and $1.1 billion two years ago, according to an analysis by investment firm Robert Baird & Co.
"We are beginning to see a lot of non supply chain applications around the world." "The exploratory efforts of Wal Mart and the U.S. Department of defense are beginning to bear fruit, and the form of these applications can never be imagined," said reik read, an analyst at Gartner ［NextPage］
Morris brown, materials management project manager of automotive industry action group, said that some car manufacturers are carrying out some RFID applications, such as using keyless way to open doors, and making tires conform to government regulations. (editor's note: according to a tire regulation issued by the U.S. safety agency at the end of 2002, automobile manufacturers must put labels on tires to let consumers know more information, so as to ensure tire quality and driving safety). According to AMR research, the automotive industry spends 5% of its annual IT budget on RFID technology.
Now, RFID products are not what Microsoft describes as "future families". For example, microwave ovens can scan macaroni and cheese to get the right cooking time and temperature. "Today, the simplest applications are those that have the most impact," said Mike Willis, vice president and general manager of RFID technology at INTERMEC technologies Corp
However, things are not always smooth. Due to some people's concern that RFID products will be continuously tracked after being acquired, the privacy issue has become the most controversial issue of RFID. In early 2005, administrators at the Britton elementary school in Sutter, California, issued RFID chip identification tags to children, but parents, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, quickly destroyed the operation. The State Department has decided to embed RFID chips in a new generation of us passports since 2006, a plan that has also raised concerns among some US citizens about whether their passports will be "browsed" by identity thieves and terrorists. The State Department said it is exploring a large number of e-passport security measures, including encryption.
However, in the development of RFID, even the tracking of people, there are effective and acceptable uses. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department implemented a project in January 2005 to monitor prisoners using active RFID, with an initial cost of $1.5 million. The Los Angeles sheriff's office hopes to reduce the number of prison violence incidents in Los Angeles through tracking.
At the Jacobi medical center in Bronx, New York, patients also have RFID tags on their wrists. Each label contains the patient's name and medical record number. The nurse can read the corresponding records from the hospital database by scanning the tablet containing the reader. Daniel morreale, the medical center's chief information officer, said after the RFID tag was adopted, hospital staff found that they not only reduced errors in drug management, but also increased their work efficiency because nurses did not have to enter information into the data base as before. "We expanded the system to all networks in two hospitals, two emergency rooms and 46 nursing departments. The investment in equipment is expected to exceed $100000. " Morial said.
The emergence of cheaper chips has obviously promoted some new applications.
Graduate students at the University of Washington used RFID tags to study genetically modified trees. They embedded chips in trees and read the whole process of tree growth with handheld devices to improve tree protection skills. Medical students at the University of Florida install RFID grids on the school's carpets, along the hallways, and along the outdoor walkways to help amblyopia and other disabled students prompt for road information on campus. In addition, the company of aquaone Technologies Inc. also sells a RFID based water monitoring device, which can be connected to the toilet to send out a warning signal and turn off the faucet when the toilet leaks or overflows.