RFID Talk Blog

RFID 24-7 Q&A: Impinj founder Chris Diorio talks about the future of RFID technology

Chris Diorio, Impinj’s chairman and CTO, recently won the RFID Special Achievement award at the RFID Journal show in Orlando. Dr. Diorio was recognized for his work in the development of the UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID standard.

 

Diorio took some time this week to discuss the award with RFID 24-7, as well as what the future holds for RFID technology.

What does the Special Achievement Award mean to you?

“The Special Achievement Award is an honor and I’m very thankful to have been chosen. But I don’t feel like the award is mine alone—there were many other individuals who were instrumental in delivering a robust UHF Gen2 standard and my thanks goes out to them. And, of course, the standards work isn’t done and I look forward to continuing to evolve UHF Gen2. I would also like to recognize the other award finalists—the work that Roger Blazek and Bill Hardgrave have done to advance RFID in the retail space is truly outstanding.”

RFID technology has made huge advances in the last two years, both from adoption and the technology itself. Where do you see RFID in 3-5 years?

“As evidenced by recent reports by VDC Research, UHF Gen2 is the fastest growing segment of the RFID market. I think current applications of the technology represent the tip of the iceberg and I expect continued growth in the apparel space and expansion into other consumer retail product categories like consumer electronics and jewelry, as well as into government-mandated categories like pharmaceuticals and liquor.”

“In terms of technology advances, I think that we will continue to see standard product improvements but expect that emphasis will be on developing application-focused solutions that couple together standard off-the-shelf components with specialized antennas and software. An example of an application-specific solution is our recent launch of the STP source-tagging platform for retail brand owners and service bureaus that are trying to scale their item-level tagging operations.”

As you look back over the years, what has been the biggest challenge faced by the industry?

“Developing and getting agreement from everyone for a single, worldwide standard, which we accomplished in December 2004 with the ratification of UHF Gen2 and its subsequent adoption by ISO. After that it was gratifying to see the first products launched and performing as anticipated, but the delay between the availability of superior products and true retail adoption took longer than any of us had anticipated. I am pleased to see the performance improvements we’ve made over the past several years that really take advantage of the standard’s capabilities, and I am especially pleased to see the adoption that is happening now.”

 

What challenges remain?

“Two items:  First, adding anti-counterfeiting, loss-prevention, security, files and file management, and untraceability to the UHF Gen2 standard while maintaining backward compatibility with currently deployed systems. Secondly, continuing to ease adoption through performance/feature improvements, cost reductions, education, and solutions enablement.”

Can you discuss the improvements being made to Gen 2 technology and what they will enable?

“The enhancements we are making to UHF Gen2 will allow it to better meet user requirements for loss prevention, consumer privacy, and usage in consumer electronics, aerospace, and applications that require secure access.  GS1 EPCglobal would like to ratify the enhanced standard, known as UHF Gen2 V2, in 2012.”

What’s the future for RFID? Will the technology eventually become ubiquitous in every day life?

“I think RFID will become part of the fabric of our everyday lives, and in so doing will become less overt and less ‘techy.’  Coke’s Freestyle machine is a great example of UHF RFID’s value – the technology is embedded and used in such a way that it provides real business value and improves consumer experience. RFID has such huge potential in so many areas — I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring!”

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