[Dave Birch] The potential growth of the RFID market is "huge". It’s not just me who says this, but the "Information Society and Media" Commissioner, Viviane Reding told reporters at CeBIT. She estimated that the European RFID market will grow from €500 million ($660 million) in 2006 to €7 billion by 2016. "We’re strong in wireless, mobility and chip manufacturing, and we must develop this for RFID," she said. But the commissioner also warned that industry must pay greater attention to security and privacy issues. "We must make industry aware that the Internet of things must be an Internet for people". That’s a phrase I rather like, and it echoes some of our comments on this. She also announced the creation of an "RFID stakeholder group," including representatives from industry and consumer groups. The group will provide advice to the Commission, which plans by the middle of this year to propose amendments to the e-Piracy Directive taking account of RFID applications. Also, later in the year, the Commission intends to publish recommendations for member states on how to handle data security and privacy issues affected by the use of RFID. .
Key to the growth is the falling price of RFID chips, of course. Now that the 1 cent tag is getting close to reality, new applications are already springing up. It might be a year or two before the chips actually hit the 1 cent level but there are already higher-value consumer goods that can benefit from tracking and monitoring. An example is today’s news that British American Tobacco, Gallaher and Imperial Tobacco are to put chips in every packet of cigarettes manufactured in Britain and pay to provide hand-held readers to Customs officers. They reckon that this will cut down on the 2 billion "fake" cigarettes imported into the UK every year.
I’m not against this at all: I think it’s a good thing, provided that I can read the chips on my stuff. More than that, I’d like the more of stuff to have chips in it. As consumer goods become part of the "internet of things", there ought to be significant opportunities for value-added services. As an example, look at the RFID patent granted to Apple. They propose to make setting up wireless networks easier by putting RFID tags into base stations and readers into devices: so instead of messing around trying to figure out what settings you are supposed to be using, you just touch your laptop to the base station and, hey presto, it automagically knows that right configuration. This the kind of thinking I like, and not just because I am inside the Jobs reality distortion field (ie, have an Apple).
These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]