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Innovation on display during RFID Live

Innovation was on full display during day one of the RFID Live conference being held this week in Orlando. In many cases, the new applications being showcased by vendors like Impinj and NXP interact heavily the consumer, bringing shoppers even closer to the technology.

NXP, for example, demonstrated an RFID-enabled tablet device that can be pre-configured and customized through embedded RFID before it leaves the store. In one example, a tablet device can arrive with a personalized birthday message and a gift card that is displayed when the device is booted up for the first time. NXP also had apparel demonstrations, new gaming technology than can scan 700 decks of cards in one second, and in-store product authentication demo.

Libraries continue to adopt RFID, while some embrace NFC.

NXP also released some interesting research on what it considers to be some of the fastest growing segments for the RFID market.

NXP says that livestock tagging and the animal ID market will see steady growth of 15 percent, with the potential for tagging 835 million livestock in 2012. Both LF and UHF tags are being used in the animal tagging market, although UHF is being driven mostly by the Chinese marketplace.

Although the library market remains slow in the U.S., NXP says it has enabled more than 4,000 libraries with RFID around the globe, and projects the potential for 500 library media resources to be tagged this year. That equates to a 14 percent growth rate.

NXP also sees NFC enabled libraries catching on in Germany, where consumers can check out a book by simply scanning it with their mobile phone. The primary savings for libraries is in labor costs when it comes to book inventories.

Retail fashion and apparel is clearly the largest use case to date, and NXP projects that 1.7 billion pieces of apparel will be tagged in 2012, with a 42 percent growth rate through 2015. Aside from inventory accuracy benefits, NXP says that a better consumer experience is becoming a primary reason for deploying item level tagging.

Wine and alcohol are emerging as new use cases in Asia to detect counterfeit products.

Another fast moving sector in the consumer products category is wine and alcohol, a sector that is primarily driven by the need for product authentication in Asia, where counterfeit products are rampant. NXP’s forecast calls for 150 million bottles of wine and alcohol to be tagged in Asia this year, with an 88 percent growth rate through 2015.

NXP showcased a system that allows consumers to verify product authenticity on the retail floor.

NXP calls for near explosive growth in the fast moving consumer goods sector like coffee, where RFID is being used to make sure products are authentic. For example, RFID-enabled coffee pots and RFID-enabled coffee cartridges can prove that expensive specialty brands of coffee are authentic. In addition, commercial users of the product can utilize RFID similar to retailers, to make sure that they never run out of certain kinds of coffee, in effect increasing sales by reducing out of stocks. NXP sees similar patterns emerging for other consumable categories like printer cartridges and vacuum bags.

“Users want to make sure you have the best consumer experience and preserve their brand reputation,” says Ralf Kodritsch, head of marketing tags and labels for NXP. “If you use a fake coffee capsule, it will taste differently. We don’t stop at the coffee capsule, because through the cloud, the machine also gives maintenance information back through the cloud, so operators know when a machine needs to be maintained.”

Lastly, NXP sees movement in the electronics sector, where it projects that up to 50 million units will be tagged in 2012, with continuing growth of 65 percent through 2015. The driving force behind tagging this product sector includes product configuration and customization, pairing, authentication, theft protection, and returns management.

By embedding an RFID chip and antenna into the device’s printed circuit board (PCB), RFID can be used for several use cases, including having an item leave the factory in a disabled state, only to be “activated” at the store when a purchase is made, or at the home if a consumer orders the product online. In that case, the consumer would be emailed a password to activate the product upon arrival. This feature is seen as a major theft deterrent, since items snatched from the supply chain would be useless.

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