When predicting technology trends, Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and author of Sketching User Experiences may have said it best:
“If history is any indication, we should assume that any technology that is going to have a significant impact over the next 10 years is already 10 years old!”
This theory holds true for several technologies. For example, the first mobile telephone call was made in 1946, many years before the first commercial cellular network was launched in 1979. GPS was in use for nearly 30 years in government and military programs before it became a must have for personal vehicle navigation. And, the formation of the Internet as we know it began in the 1980s, but wasn’t truly incorporated into virtually every aspect of modern human life until a decade later.
Applying this premise to radio frequency identification (RFID) seems to hold true as well. The technology itself was well over 10 years old in 2004 when retail giants began pushing it as a means of driving efficiencies into their supply chains. While these initial retail programs didn’t succeed according to plan, and mass adoption didn’t happen the way many analysts predicted, these initiatives did kick off a high level of interest from retailers, product manufacturers and many other industries and markets focused on improving their business and service processes. Between 2004 and now, something else happened that makes one ask if RFID is ready to have that significant impact Buxton mentions.