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Category: RFID, Automated Data Collection, and Internet of Things

RFID and IoT News Round Up for Week of May 31, 2017

Different New Studies on RFID Market Growth; New RFID Tag with Multiple Sensors, Longer Read Range; Apple Receives Patent for RFID and Mobile Nutrition App

May 31, 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Below are some of the top recent news stories relative to RFID, the Internet of Things, and Automated Dats Collection (AIDC).

Two New Studies om RFID Market Size and Growth


How much is the RFID market growing?

As usual, it depends on whom you ask.

SCDigest has noted for many years now that anytime RFID market numbers are cited by one research firm or another, you really need to understand the definition of the markets being studied. Almost all such RFID market sizing efforts include tags and readers, but beyond that it can vary. For example, what if any RFID related software is included in the numbers? And are professional services to implement RFID systems part of the numbers?

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The Apple system would allow retailers, grocers or even electronic vending machines to assign nutritional information on a per-item basis, meaning users can mix and match foods as part of a larger order.

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Geographies also vary. Is a given study focused on global numbers, the North American market, or just say the US or Europe?

With that brief introduction, two recent market sizing studies have been released, which as usual are of most interest to technology vendors in the RFID space, but can be interesting as a gauge of how much progress RFID is making in supply chain and related applications for practiioners as well.

SCDigest will also add that since these reports are generally sold by the research firms, usually in the $5000 range, limited details are made available in press releases promoting the studies for obvious reasons. Nevertheless some useful insights can generally be found from those releases.

A company called Grandview Research says the global market for RFID tags, readers and "middleware" software was about $10.5 billion in 2015. Grandview believes the market will see strong growth, due to adoption of real-time location systems as well as sensor networks and Internet of Things applications that use RFID tags as part of the system.

The report expects the North American retail sector to sees its RFID expenditures on tags, readers and middleware average 12.6% annual growth over the next few years, while overall growth of RFID spend is expected to grow an even more robust 14% annually.


That implies overall growth faster than retail-specific growth - suprising - and indeed a chart in the press release shows very strong growth in the industrial sector, though much more modest growth in what it calls transportation and logistics.

Meanwhile, research firm, Transparency Market Research has some different numbers. It says spend on RFID tags alone in the US was $809 million in 2016, a number that will rise to $1.67 billion by the end of 2025. If true, that would mean average annual growth of about 8.5% over the period – a solid increase, but not explosive growth, indicative of a market that either is already mature or is still in its infancy. Take your pick.

“Rising affordability of RFID tags is expected to be the primary growth driver for the global market in the coming years,” the report press release says. The research estimates that retail will comprise 23.1% of the market for RFID tags by the end of 2015.

But the report notes the on-going cost advantage of bar code technology and the installed base of those systems is likely to keep a check on RFID growth for some time.

New Tag with Multiple Sensors, Longer Read Range Introduced

A company called Powercast, based in Pittsburgh, has announced what the company claims to be the industry's first RFID sensor tags that can include multiple sensors in a single tag while providing the industry's longest read range of 10 meters.

Designed for industrial and manufacturing applications where it's necessary to monitor data to ensure goods don't fall outside of acceptable parameters, the ultrahigh frequency (UHF) RFID sensor tags enable environmental condition monitoring throughout the shipping journey, for example, of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals or perishable products packed with dry ice, Powercast says.


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Several versions of the new tags will be available. The PCT100 enables battery-free wireless sensing. The PCT200 adds a battery with the unique ability to recharge using any standard RFID reader's field, making the tag reusable without plugging in or changing batteries, including up to one month of battery life without recharging.

Users can easily set data read times from one minute to one hour, the company says, and the tags use Powercast's patented RF-harvesting technology where the embedded Powerharvester receiver can generate power purely from a standard RFID reader, transforming the signal into energy to power the microcontroller and sensors for measuring environmental conditions.

Operating in the 860 MHz to 960 MHz frequency range, from -40 to +85ºC, the tags can be configured with one, two or three sensors in any combination of temperature, humidity and light.

 

Powercast says it plans to soon offer other sensors, such as moisture, stress/strain, vibration and more.

Apple Receives Patent for RFID System to Promote Healthy Eating

Consumer electronics giant Apple recently received a US patent for what it calls "electronic tag transmissions of custom-order nutritional information,” primarily targeted at restaurants or grocery stores that serve meals.

The filing describes a method of encoding RFID tags with nutritional details regarding one or more food items. The tags then transmit nutritional variables, such as caloric value, fat content, sugar content and more, to a waiting NFC-capable device like an iPhone or Apple Watch.

The system would allow retailers, grocers or even electronic vending machines to assign nutritional information on a per-item basis, meaning users can mix and match foods as part of a larger order and get the individual and then total details of the nutritional information.

For example, a user might order a hamburger with cheddar cheese and mustard, an order of fries and a soft drink. The electronic vendor device is capable of combining nutritional variables for that hamburger and the rest of the order - bun, meat, cheese, mustard and any other condiments – and then twriting that data to an RFID tag. Or the system can track nutritional variables to particular ingredients.

Once the tag data is written, an employee places the tag on a food order package or receipt, which is then read by an Apple Watch or iPhone, as shown in the figure from the patent application below, provided by the Apple Insider website.

 

Apple Receives Patent for New RFID-Based Nutrition Tracking System

 

Apple Insider says the invention also specifies techniques of estimating whether a user consumed part or all of a particular food item. An app might query on-board motion sensors to determine whether a user moved their arm to their mouth, for example. Alternatively, data from biometric sensors measuring a user's heart rate might indicate that they were eating.

The technology presents an excellent alternative to current app-based solutions that depend on static databases of commonly consumed foods or user self-entry.


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