By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2003-10-28 Print this article Print

: Follow the Money"> The difference between Wal-Mart and the military will be in the budgets involved. Wal-Mart, notorious for its low prices, is pushing to keep the price per RFID tag in the $0.05 range, Abell said. The U.S. military, which used RFID tags as early as the first Gulf War, spent roughly $100 per tag at that time, Abell said, a figure the DODs Klein confirmed. Active tags contain their own power sources, typically a flat power source contained within the walls of the corrugated material. Compared to the cost of an artillery shell, a missile, or even a military-spec toilet seat, a high-powered RF tag is still an incidental expense.
The bottom line, according to analysts?
"Due to the immaturity of the technology, very few (consumer products) manufacturers are actively implementing RFID and many are worried about complying with their customers mandates," AMRs Romanow wrote in a recent report. "Something has to give." Abell agreed. In January 2005, Wal-Mart expects its top 100 suppliers to have RFID programs in place, something which Abell expected will only be a pilot program extending across one or two sites. However, those 100 suppliers could represent about 50 percent of the retailers volume. "While I cant speak for Wal-Mart, Id say that the first two years are going to be learning experiences for both the industry and Wal-Mart," Abell said. Meanwhile, another industry group is attacking an additional problem: the amount of information stored on the tags themselves. On Oct. 31, The Uniform Code Council, Inc. (UCC) and EAN International Inc. will establish AutoID Inc., a not-for-profit organization that will develop and oversee commercial and technical standards for the Electronic Product Code (EOC) network which will determine the codes used by the RF tags. "Our job is to take this (RFID) technology into the commercial marketplace," Jack Grasso, public relations director for AutoID, said. Currently, six universities—the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, the University of Cambridge in the U.K., the University of Adelaide in Australia, Keio University in Japan, and the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland —in conjunction with over 100 companies formed the Auto-ID Center. After Oct. 31, the universities will split off and their research efforts will be known as Auto-ID Labs, Grasso said. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.


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