Tour de RFID - technology that is as good as blood doping
RFID is the technological equivalent of Erythropoietin or EPO. It can make even the wimpiest data capture seem superhuman. But unlike doping everyone wants to talk about it. OK, my synism for professional cycling just reared it's ugly head, I know it's a bad moral analogy but let me tell you why it makes sense from the technology perspective where RFID is perfectly legal, safe and easy to buy. But first you need to know how I got this bizarre thought.
The sun was just settling down over South Beach in Miami last weekend, a crisp breeze was fanning the 75 degrees day steadily cooler with the promise of an exciting night. It seemed like a perfect time to go for a bike ride. I needed to rent a bike. I had a dinner planned at normal Miami time- which gave me about three hours to kill that is usually referred to as happy hour. It's easy to see why.
Back to the bike rental. Like Boston, Paris, Denver and several other major metro areas, Miami has sprung for a service that rents bikes and provides pick up and drop off stations around the city. Put in your credit card, pull a bike out of the rack. You can rent for an hour, two hours or a full day. Find one of the racks around town and return the bike anywhere you feel like it.
When you return the bike it knows you are you and credits your card for returning the bike. It's magic. Or so it should appear. But it doesn't. On the side of the bike it say "RFID track able". I saw this and was immediately disappointed. Yeah I know, the guy who wrote RFID for Dummies being disappointed about RFID making its way into daily life. Yup it's true.
RFID should be the magic that brings next generation technology to our life. I spent some time with Microsoft's CIO last year and toured the home of the future - it was magic. Lots of NextGen stuff like recipes projecting onto countertops when you pulled a box of pasta out of the cabinet, music changing when you walk in the room, etc. It was largely driven by RFID. ODIN's EasyConnect social media software is doing a lot with social media - walk up to a photospot or check in at a kiosk and viola it's on your Facebook page for your friends and family to see - like magic. RFID should make magic.
If RFID is going to really have an impact it needs to be invisible. It can change the face of technology like EPO changed Floyd Landis' jersey yellow. But to have it really take off it should be . (that's a subtle joke right there)
Have you heard of BLER? How about make-before-break? I'm guessing less than .01% of the world's mobile phone users know the technology behind enabling calls to stay connected when you go from one tower to another, yet it was crucial for the mass adoption of portable phones. RFID does not need to be known to be successful. If you have a good use for RFID call it NextGen bike sharing, Magic Mirror (retailers already have that one) or Social Media Experiences. Don't call it RFID trackable.
You don't have to be Walmart to make magic. Izzy's ice cream in St Paul MN is a great example, this progressive mom and pop shop installed RFID readers in their freezers and tweet when favors of their hand made ice cream become available. They have thousands of followers, and are having trouble keeping up with demand and have won numerous awards as an innovator. That's how RFID should be used. As I put the bike back int he rack in South Beach a mile or two from where I picked it up, I thought about what flavors Izzy's had since I earned one, and checked my Twitter account and there was my favorite salted caramel appearing on a twitter feed like magic.