January 26, 2004

RFIDs - the new techno revolution

I met today someone whose company (Alien Inc) has a machine the size of a small room able to make 10 billion Radio Frequency Identification Tags - or radio barcodes - in a year. Ten of these machines could provide 100 billion tags a year. Since Wal-Mart alone will need 5 billion just to tag pallets and boxes, it is clear the market is going to grow fast and prices will tumble - perhaps reaching as low as 3.5 cents per device. The technology is ingenious. I have in my pocket 100 chips in a small bottle. These automatically find their way in solution into identically shaped slots in a plastic membrane where they become permanently attached, so that they can be separated, and mounted onto a piece of paper on which is printed an aerial in special metallic ink. They are then fully active with hardware, software, permanent memory, operating system, and ability to write and receive data. It all happens more or less without human intervention using huge silicon wafers, and wide sheets of special laminates and papers which are then cut up to make each tag.

See presentation I gave today in London on RFID technology and security / privacy issues RFID SLIDES