RFID, Smart Phones, Internet of Things – A future of change.

Internet_of_ThingsThe next BIG thing in Digital is the “Internet of Things (IoT).”   The IoT is an interesting collaboration between technologist, marketers, retailers and smartphone manufacturers. It will impact us all, and here is the basics of what you need to know and expect over the next 10 years:

RFID Tags (also called microchips or ‘chips’) are simply small chips that store data.  Over the past 10 years, retailers have affixed the larger active chips to pallets of product to increase efficiencies in supply chains.   RFID is a major contributor to Walmart’s success.  But now, read-only passive RFID microchips are as small as a grain of rice and being slapped on at the product level.  What does this mean to consumers, marketers and retailers?

Most product chips store a unique code between 1o-96 bits in length.  The chip alone has no value, but when connected to a related database, the chip number can be used to retrieve information, similar to an account number at a bank.

RFIDs are the basic component that will drive the “Internet of Things” – RFID will uniquely identify all of the “Things” on the “Internet of Things.”   Sound complicated?  Well, its not really.

Internet of Things (IoT):  It is a marketer’s dream to have the ability to track the product life cycle, and the IoT allows this granular level of tracking.  Imagine if we were to affix a RFID passive microchip on every individual product known to mankind, and add a new layer to the existing Internet.   To access this new layer,  we would not use a domain name or URL,  instead we would enter in an RFID microchip number.  This would bring us to a IoT page for the item.

For example, a can of coke would have an RFID chip and a unique code.  You type this code in a search bar and a page would appear on the history of that particular can of coke; Where it was manufactured, sold, and which transfer station it was recycled.

The Internet of Things is gaining momentum.  According to Gartner Research, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.

One more thing to note: Are we all supposed to carry around RFID microchip readers?  No, not so much….the readers will be in our phones. 

RFID Readers:  In 2011, Apple applied for a patent for an RFID tag reader embedded in touchscreen devices.  My guess is RFID readers will be the standard in smartphones by 2020.  What drives that?  Try an example of [Lost Luggage]!Capture

While the IoT may impact digital marketing, the technology will also enable us to better track animals.  In the future, anyone who has a smart phone will have an enabled RFID (microchip) reader.  For example, anyone can walk to lost pet (or horse at auction), and wave their phone over their neck to retrieve the 10-15 digit microchip code.  Next, they can type in this code in the Equine Rescue Networks Mobile app to report a horse lost or found.  That is a future that I am excited to see.

For now (2015), RFID starts with baby steps….“[A simple Tap]” replacing QR codes.

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