RFID has been around for decades and was once seen as a "can't miss" technology. However, it didn't live up to the initial hype. Eventually, RFID settled into a useful but supporting role in many fields, notably in retail, according to Network World. High costs of readers and the RFID tags themselves, ranging from 7 to 15 cents for the least expensive passive tags, were big reasons RFID didn't gain traction. But as the IoT grows, RFID will become essential, along with other technologies like passive ultra-high-frequency RFID tags, near field communication and others yet to be invented.
In one view, RFID tags are supercharged bar codes with radio connectivity. RFID readers wirelessly detect and track items with tags as they move through a supply chain, pass through a production line or wait in inventory or on a sales floor.
The current vision of the IoT is that it will consist of many interconnected networks based on a variety of standards and specifications, some yet to be developed. "I don't think RFID is ever going to be replaced. It is only one component in an IoT implementation," said Nina Turner, a research manager at IDC.
"The landscape of the Internet of Things is complex and will only get more complicated," said Kevin Berisso, chair of the IoT committee at the Association for Automatic Identification & Mobility, an RFID industry organization. "Competing platforms are still evolving and pathways to interoperability between them need to be built."
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