An RFID tag in your Nike shoes can win you that marathon

Some non-conventional applications of radio frequency identification or RFID represent the real potential of this technology for businesses and consumers.

Chip on your licence plate

Electronic vehicle identification and tracking is another hugely popular application of second-gen RFID technology, according to Westwater.

He cited the example of his company's work in countries such as China and India that - along with phenomenal infrastructure growth - are experiencing runaway growth in the number of vehicles hitting their roads and highways.

"In China 80,000 kms of highway are expected to be completed by 2010, and 150,000 kms of highway by 2020. There are already more than 50 million vehicles in China, and by 2020 there will be an estimated 200 million vehicles."

Such incredible vehicular growth should be a huge source or revenue to municipal governments, he said, but for the unfortunate fact that around 20 per cent of vehicles in developing countries are unlicensed.

By developing RFID applications for document authentication, he said IPICO is helping governments in these countries address this issue. "In addition to having the tag on your windshield, we could then put the same tag in the license that you carry."

The IPICO application, he said, includes RFID tags, readers, middleware and software that's custom developed for a range of vehicle and people identification applications.

The business benefits of such apps is inestimable, the IPICO exec said, especially when you factor in the low cost.

These benefits include congestion, faster trade and better use of infrastructure.

In countries such as India, he said, with millions of new cars and motorcycles hitting the road and renewed attempts to control vehicular pollution, this technology is very handy.

"It helps authenticate that that vehicle actually has been emission tested."

In North America, he said, the technology could have huge potential benefits in applications such as toll tracking.

IPICO's RFID tag would be a far cheaper option than a transponder for regular users of the 407 ETR - the 108 km multi-lane toll highway running across the north of the Greater Toronto Area. "That tag costs CDN$1 versus that CDN$25- 30 transponder."

But industry analysts say it's in emerging markets where adoption of RFID for EVI is likely to be really take off.

"The massive infrastructure boom in India and China, and the fact that they don't currently have an effective EVI system, is probably the biggest driver of [EVI] in these countries," noted Cleetez.

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Joaquim P. Menezes

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