RFID hype off the scale, says reseller

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Despite market hype around Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), one new mobile applications reseller has argued large scale, mainstream deployments are years away.

Despite market hype around Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), one new mobile applications reseller has argued large scale, mainstream deployments are years away.

Merrick Spain, GM at newly spun-off reseller Mobile Data Systems, said that hype around RFID was proving ill-founded for some early adopters.

'In some areas, you will get your return. But for the mainstream, we are probably two to three years off large-scale deployments in RFID,' he said.

Spain said that Mobile Data Systems - formally spun off this month from Queensland-based data capture and wireless networking vendor Barcode Products - had in-house experience of RFID deployment. It has partnerships with RFID vendors such as Tagsys and Texas Instruments, he said.

'These guys are reading the hype. They are telling customers that that they can do really sexy things, but the reality is it's just not there,' Spain said. 'RFID is going to be a big thing, especially in public infrastructure and security, but in terms of what's deliverable as a working solution today, it's not there yet.'

Spain said that, for example, RFID tags could cost a couple of dollars or as much as $80 to $100 dollars each. Until those prices came down to five or six cents each, the cost alone of deployment would prove prohibitive.

'Beverage vendors [canisters and kegs] ... use them but lose them, five to ten percent of them every year,' he said.

Managing workflow around issues was also problematic for some, Spain added.

While RFID was useful for certain 'quite specific' uses, such as tracking gas canisters and meat-processing, many mainstream uses would continue to find barcoding more practical and cost-effective for the mean time, he said.

Mobile Data Systems - a 16-strong company based in Brisbane - was focusing on importing and distributing barcode printing and scanning systems, mobile handheld computing, and wireless networking, including around CDMA and GPRS mobile phone technologies, Spain said.

The reseller's portfolio included vendors such as iTouch, Panasonic, Zebra, Symbol, and Barcode Products, and targeted mainly workers in the field, he said.

Technologies such as biometrics and RFID would play an increasingly important role but not yet, Spain said.

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