As the RFID industry gathers in San Diego for the RFID Live convention, the emerging theme for this week’s show is the continued maturation of the technology.
Industry stalwarts including Checkpoint Systems, Impinj, Tyco Retail Solutions and Smartrac all made major announcements on Wednesday, including Impinj’s milestone of selling its 10 billionth UHF, or RAIN RFID Monza chip. In addition, Tyco is seeing strong growth in retail adoptions and announced that it has deployed its technologies in more than 2,500 retail stores globally.
“Selling our 10 billionth chip is a fantastic milestone that speaks to the value RAIN RFID is bringing to businesses and consumers around the world, connecting everyday items and thereby enabling the true Internet of Things,” says Dr. Chris Diorio, CEO and founder of Impinj. “Ten billion chips speaks to a technology maturity that allows us to focus on our platform and how it will make RAIN RFID part of our everyday lives.”
The potential for apparel tagging remains enormous. Bill McBeath, chief research officer at Chainlink Research, estimates that only 5-10 percent of economically taggable apparel items are currently tagged.
“There are billions of apparel items per year currently being tagged, an indicator of how mature and widely accepted the technology has become,” says McBeath. “And there is still plenty of potential for growth for RFID in retail.”
That’s especially true when it comes to cosmetics, a category that until recently faced tagging challenges that prevented full-scale adoption. Checkpoint’s unveiling of its Slim and Whisper RFID labels for beauty care and cosmetics is expected to drive additional activity in this area.
The Whisper is offered with a label size of only 12x12mm and integrated with the Monza R6 chip. It is the smallest form factor in its category and comes with removable adhesive so that no marks are left on cosmetics products.
“Major retailers have expressed a strong interest in expanding RAIN RFID categories to include health, beauty and cosmetics categories,” says Uwe Sydon, senior vice president of innovation at Checkpoint. “The new RAIN RFID tags specifically designed for these products will help achieve the goals of auto replenishment and inventory management.”
In the last 12-15 months, Tyco Retail Solutions has seen significant momentum, not only in the number of retailers deploying RFID, but also in the number of stores and merchandise categories designated for RFID roll-outs.
Nancy Chisholm, president of Tyco Retail Solutions, says that pilot project cycle times are shrinking from months to often just weeks, and that pilots are becoming larger, with often up to 10 times more stores participating than prior pilots. In addition, Tyco is seeing quicker rollouts, consisting of fewer steps from pilot to full deployment, and more merchandise categories deploying RFID, well beyond basic replenishable items. Of course, increased ROI is driving most of the action.
““RFID has become a critical foundation for success in today’s retail environment,” says Chisholm. “Anchored by effective use cases and proven returns, our RFID powered solutions are gaining global momentum. We will continue to help unleash the benefits RFID offers retailers worldwide and to support the advancement of this critical IoT application.”