2013
03.06

Nothing is more exciting to me than seeing M2M appear on television or in the movies. When high-flying cop and crime shows are showcasing RFID (radio-frequency identification) and other connected technologies, you know M2M has reached the masses.

I recently saw a rerun of a CSI episode that featured RFID as a core component to one of the main plot lines. In the story, which originally aired last fall, one of the main characters finds an RFID tag from a cow’s ear and that discovery leads the team to solve the crime.

While I applaud the show’s writers and executive producers’ ingenuity to include RFID in the story—and its effort to describe how the technology works—I worry RFID’s constant association with cow herding could pigeonhole the technology.

Certainly this is a big market for RFID. The tagging of animals is significant, especially as it is more commonly becoming a legal requirement in many more territories, with roughly 294 million tags being used for this sector in 2012.

My concern, however, is RFID has become synonymous with tracking and, in particular, herding cows. This isn’t necessarily the case. RFID is also seeing rapid growth in apparel tagging, which in 2012 alone demanded more than 1 billion labels. RFID is also more commonly being used in tickets for transit, which needed 500 million tags in 2012, says IDTechEx.

The challenge is when M2M providers and corporate adopters go to use RFID for new applications, such tracking workers at a construction jobsite or children as they are getting on and off a school bus, apprehension automatically begins to ensue.

It seems lately anytime anyone announces a new innovative use for RFID, hands are immediately raised and concerns are made known.

My words of wisdom are: It is important to be educated on how RFID is being used in a particular application and to understand what types of data are being gathered, but the use of RFID doesn’t automatically mean privacy is being compromised.

With the pervasiveness of connectivity today, M2M will continue to permeate many aspects of our everyday life, and we need to be ready for all the changes that are coming. The market for RFID in particular continues to grow. As IDTechEx predicted at the end of last year, the overall value of the entire RFID market will be $7.67 billion in 2012, up from $6.51 billion in 2011.

We have just begun to scratch the surface for how RFID and M2M can be applied. I am personally excited to see what comes next.

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