RFID Trends: What's Ahead in 2017, Part 2

Leading solution providers speak out on the business and technology issues that will impact adoption in the near future.
By Jennifer Zaino

"Security and tamper evidence will be a big trend for 2017," Robinton says. "We will see developments in physical security (tags that change or "die" in response to tampering), visual security (the use of holograms and solutions that provide clear evidence of tampering) and logical security (encryption). There also are important RFID advances in the smart card space, most significantly for citizen IDs—passports and national IDs will deliver improved security, including more ways to encode digital information onto and inside more durable cards featuring contactless RFID microcontroller chips."

Passive sensors and printed electronics soon will have a bigger influence on RFID technology, Uhl says. Melo expounds on this point, noting that new printing technologies and new materials will drive new means of RFID tag manufacturing. "If you think about RFID today, it has evolved significantly but it uses the same base materials," he states. "The new wave of manufacturing innovation coming, such as printing around flexible electronics, will help lower costs and thus unlock possibilities by reducing ROI hurdles."

Look for robotics for RFID data-capture solutions as existing pilots generate feedback, Schaefer says. "While one size will never fit all," he says, "I expect that robotics solutions will graduate in 2017 to finding their place alongside the broad plethora of other RFID solution options in the space."

And looking a bit beyond 2017, as RFID-enabled data capture continually moves toward systems offering a greater amount of automation and convergence, and as technology gets more efficient, Schaefer expects to "eventually see consumer devices integrate some level of UHF RFID capabilities, which may change the way that users engage in shopping and other everyday activities."

Past and Future Surprises
When we asked Checkpoint's Cooduvalli what trend surprised him in 2016, he said: "The number of retailers interested in implementing RFID in distribution centers with high-volume processes." That, he explains, potentially points to an increasing knowledge that understanding the complete supply chain is critical to gaining inventory accuracy, and that those basics need to be in place from DCs to stores before they can move to other use cases, such as putting RFID in fitting rooms. Still, he says he'd be surprised if, in 2017, "retailers tag a wider range of merchandise beyond core items."

Given the traction RFID has gained in retail, SML's Frew says he would be surprised if the technology's adoption in the industry slowed down during the coming year. "It is guaranteed that retailers will use RFID inventory information to pursue an omnichannel shopping strategy," he states. "It's now possible to have a high level of confidence in retail inventory to enable a customer to order online and pick up the item in a store."

Smartrac's Uhl says he wasn't surprised to see the growing demand of retailers and consumer goods manufacturers for RFID-tagged packaging this past year. NXP's Kodritsch says he'd be surprised to see a move by Chinese retailers to adopt RFID at large scale.

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