The Prosperous Market for RFID
May 23, 2007 Dr Peter Harrop
The market for RFID continues to surge forward, with investments, acquisitions and orders at record levels. The premier European IDTechEx conference RFID Europe, on the 18-19 September in Cambridge UK, will air all these aspects. For example, twenty company CEOs will present for funding to investors at the Investors' Forum with many other investors in the audience.
The main conference has a truly global lineup of speakers, from famous companies such as Sony, BP and Ahold to many new to the business. There are exciting first announcements of new products and stories of unusual applications to tell. The buoyant market prospect for the next few years is shown below, tags being red, readers blue and systems and software green, according to IDTechEx research.
Source: IDTechEx www.idtechex.com/research
One example of this buoyancy is in the air industry, where Manchester Airport Group (UK/Australia) is using RFID for people management and retailing and global trade association IATA is successfully rolling out RFID on baggage for security and efficiency. In addition to hearing these speakers, we shall get other international views from Hong Kong International Airport and Air France/ KLM at this conference.
The relatively new technology of Wi-Fi RFID where the tag gives location based on signals from pre-existing Wi-Fi emitters has its biggest global rollout taking place in the UK this year. User City Link will tell us about it and TNT Express will give us another view of the rapid adoption of RFID in postal and logistics sectors. Lockheed Martin's Savi Technology, which is servicing the largest order ever placed for RFID ($425 million - US Military), will speak. IDTechEx forecasts that the military/logistics/postal sector will be responsible for a massive $4.6 billion spend in 2017.
Another vibrant sector is healthcare where tagging of assets and people is moving on apace as is the compliance monitoring of drugs, where the smart pack can radio the identification of the patient and which pill was taken when. This is likely to become mandatory in drug trials to prevent the corruption of data. It is highly desirable in the home, because 40-50% of patients take their medication wrongly - a cause of much unnecessary suffering. Here the breakthrough comes from ECCT in the Netherlands. To make electronic compliance monitoring economical and ubiquitous, "RFID has to be part of the packaging that is included during the manufacturing process, not just an add-on," says Jos Geboers, codirector of ECCT. His company was involved in a recent Novartis trial followed by a pan European set of drug trials currently taking place, both with electronic compliance monitoring. ECCT will announce their breakthrough, which involves printed electronics, at the conference. IDTechEx forecasts that more than $3.5 billion will be spent on RFID in healthcare in 2017.
Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman of IDTechEx says, "We have several important themes at the conference this year. We consider the big forthcoming orders - who, where, what for? We address profitable RFID sectors now and unmet needs. We address opportunities across the full value chain and analyse progress from around the world. In particular, we shall assess RFID in relation to the needs of you, the delegate."
The great Japanese innovator Toppan Printing, heavily into the new printed electronics, will present and ICI (US/UK), Meco (Netherlands), Domino (US/UK) and Muhlbauer (Germany) will be among those giving the manufacturing and systems integration aspects.
Active RFID is involved in many of the above examples and Montalbano Technology of Italy will describe recent active RFID projects. IDTechEx will appraise the booming market for active RFID in mobile telephones and Cration Ltd., of Ireland will announce its breakthrough of a new silicon chip that senses many parameters without being prohibitively expensive. The active RFID business is mainly one for systems, unlike the passive market.
Edible printed electronics
For the highest volumes, passive tags will be entirely printed. The conference will cover the printed edible RFID tags with no silicon chip newly patented by Eastman Kodak and others in the US and the first volume sale of 16 bit printed chipless RFID in 700,000 paper game cards in Germany. These can be eaten without harm by children misusing them because a safe organic PEDOT material is used as the capacitively coupled conductor in the card.
Other leaders in use and application of passive RFID will also present including an update from UK retailer Marks and Spencer which continues to be well ahead of any other retailer in the world in rolling out the RFID tagging of individual items in retailing, in this case apparel, its end point of 350 million items yearly being not that far away. The tags have printed silver antennas.
A session will be focused on contactless smart cards - the largest part of the RFID market in 2007 this year by value - with speakers from transportation schemes, cellphone companies the government and many more.
We also cover one of the most important countries of all - China is spending a massive $2 billion on RFID tags and systems this year. IDTechEx will present on new analysis by its researcher Ning Xiao on RFID in China. This is now the country with the largest demand for RFID in the world at 40% value share of the global RFID market.