Smart Labels Europe 2000

Conferences - Smart Labels Europe 2000

2 - 3 October 2000

IDTechEx Ltd, the consultancy specialising in low-cost RFID, staged the world's first conference on smart labels in Cambridge. It was a sell-out at 176 attendees

Delegates came from as far afield as Canada, California, Japan, Singapore, Israel and South Africa. Many of the companies represented were new to the RFID scene whether as potential buyers or suppliers. Responding to requests, IDTechEx devoted the first day to major end users and their needs. These needs varied from tracking the post and livestock to e-commerce fulfilment and FMCG brand protection. Delegates from Glaxo Wellcome, SmithKline Beecham, Raytheon, Du Pont and a wide variety of paper makers, label makers card companies and others expressed keen interest in the subject matter. Cross-fertilisation between industries was the norm. For example Diageo, the multibillion dollar liquor company, saw relevance in the RFID work of the British Post Office. A consistent message from these speakers, representing British Airways, Swissport (which manages 100 airports), The British Post Office, Caterpillar Apparel, Allied Domecq etc. was that the really big applications demand tags preferably at a few cents, and certainly below 30 cents. The second day, dedicated to new product announcements, showed that such tags are becoming available, particularly based on chipless technologies. These large industries have substantial funding available to address a wide variety of challenges using RFID and the conference provided an opportunity for many potential users to meet new suppliers offering advanced new chipless products for the first time. However, radical improvements in chip tags were also announced, as well as rapid roll-out of chip tags in "closed" applications not hostage to the geological timescales of standards committees. Those presenting products for the first time included Miyake Japan (chipless), CW Over Solutions US (chipless), Remoso The Netherlands (chipless), Holotag UK (chipless - and advanced antennae for all tags), Toppan Printing Japan (chip). CET Technologies of Singapore shared experience of systems integration in libraries. Texas Instruments and Checkpoint told of their remarkably rapid success in selling sophisticated, yet low-cost chip tag systems into libraries across the world in the last two years. As with smart cards before them, these smart label systems typically provide multiple paybacks. For example, in libraries there can be a sharp reduction in theft, lost books, queuing, overheads and time taken to do inventory. Batteries are coming back with some chip tags because of the power needed for read-write or the difficulty in meeting new, tougher radiation laws. Batteries are also required where data is processed in the tag and where range of a passive tag is inadequate. The delegates were therefore surprised and delighted to hear of the two cent disposable paper battery from Power Paper of Israel and the 50 cent rechargeable battery from Electrochemical Research of Israel. Both are made entirely of environmentally-safe materials and are virtually non-metallic, useful features for RFID applications.

Passive with Active

Cambridge is the RFID centre of Europe with many startups and major suppliers operating from the region. One such company is activeRF and chief executive Pilgrim Beart gave a talk on how passive and active tags are beginning to be combined in complex systems that provide the best of both worlds. "It was a great opportunity for us to get in front of some important people. I was very impressed with the way the whole event came together." Pilgrim Beart, CEO activeRF, UK "I would like to congratulate IDTechEx on putting on an excellent conference." Guy Boxall, OMRON, Japan "The conference was quite remarkable. I thought that it was a focused topic that provided an excellent chance to exchange information with a specific target group and, also to be heard. It was exactly what we were looking for. Count me in again." Dr Niles Fleischer, ECR, Israel