Still, RFID has been surrounded by too much hype, according to Tobolski. Each time users start to fall into "the valley of disillusionment, we see a new wave of hype," he told the FCC commissioners. Tobolski also recited a long list of RFID implementation challenges, including costs, standardization, privacy, performance and reliability, and a need for greater collaboration.Systems integration will be expensive, too, Tobolski acknowledged, in that most current systems "are not geared to handling RFID data." Accenture is working with a group of pharmaceutical firms that are now collaborating around RFID, he said. On the privacy side, though, some RFID opponents still perceive the technology as "the beginning of the enslavement of humanity," he said. Is RFID key to supply chain security? Read what a panel has to say. Also underscoring privacy issues was Greg Pottie of Sensory Networks, a manufacturer of sensors used in applications such as seismic monitoring and transportation of contaminated goods. RFID is now "climbing the stack" to become a sensor, he said. Pottie mentioned some possible workarounds to privacy concerns. "One of the solutions to the privacy dilemma is that [consumers] can be bribed," he quipped, in reference to consumer loyalty programs. "But you cant just take and take [customer information]." As RFID takes greater hold, issues will include "who will be in charge of the data" and whether those who are responsible can be trusted, he said. These will be "sensible issues for regulation." Check out eWEEK.coms Supply Chain Management & Logistics Center for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.
"Costs are not yet what we want, [although] they will come down over time," Tobolski said. He pointed to one retail customer, with 510 miles of CD shelves, that was looking into installing RFID-enabled smart shelves. The customer abandoned that idea when told the price tag would be $250 million.