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Philips pitches RFID technology to policy makers

Posted: 10 Oct 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:rfid? philips? rfid tag? oecd? wireless?

Philips Semiconductors is putting its weight behind a lobbying effort aimed at convincing policy makers to adopt RFID tag technology.

Speaking at a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) here on Wednesday (Oct. 5), Indro Mukerjee, executive vice president of Philips's for automotive and identification business, predicted that RFID will become the most prevalent sensory "electronic-based intelligence" technology of the 21st century. Mukerjee said RFIDs would link machines, goods, people while measuring and calibrating consumer preferences.

Predicting a market of 1 trillion RFID tags by 2015, Mukerjee said, "It's very important that we get it right" in developing international standards. He cautioned that policy makers shouldn't jump to conclusions about privacy concerns that have stirred controversy. He assured delegates that RFID makers are not taking privacy issues lightly.

"You can't hide this stuff," he said, adding that both sides of the argument should balance the "huge social benefits of RFID versus the notion of tracking everything."

Claudia Loebbecke, a professor at the University of Cologne in Germany, said "the technology will be there. You can't stop it." At a minimum, she expects the OECD to "educate consumers, governments and regulators."

Rather than regulation, Mukerjee said, "we need mandates from the governments and industry" that can help create a broader customer base for RFID technology.

Countries like Japan and South Korea are already solidly behind RFID. Taiichi Inoue, a senior consultant at Nomura Research Institute, said public policy that propelled the country's broadband infrastructure deployment under the "e-Japan" slogan is now shifting toward an RFID-based network build out called "u-Japan," as in "ubiquitous."

Government role?

An OECD delegate from Finland questioned whether governments should promote RFID technology by mandating its use, just as many governments have promoted broadband and digital television standards. The U.S. Defense Department has mandated that use of RFID technology, and giant retailer Wal-Mart has also backed the backed the technology.

Daniel Caprio, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy, presented a list of RFID applications in the U.S., including toll-road transponders, antitheft keys for cars, RFID tags for medications and other healthcare applications.

Intel Corp., for example, is piloting a number of healthcare applications including patient and blood tracking, Caprio said.

RFID tags could also used as temperature sensors on perishable goods or to track meat products from the point of origin.

Delta Airlines is also using special RFID technologies to monitor aircraft engine performance, comparing current data with historical data to anticipate potential problems. Similarly, the technology can be applied to automobiles to monitor tire pressure, he added.

Philips will next promote RFID technology in near-field communication (NFC) applications, in combination with other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. RFID is expected to simplify a complex interface issues such as pairing between a Bluetooth-equiped camera phones and TVs, said Mukerjee. The combination of NFC and other wireless technologies will emerge in 2006 in the form of a module, he added.

- Junko Yoshida

EE Times

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