AutoID & Data Capture Blog

5G Edge Infrastructure Market Growing Rapidly Ahead of Standardization

Barcode Vendors Diagnosing Healthcare Market Opportunities in 2013

Current and ongoing government and industry regulatory initiatives are prompting increased migration to electronic health records (EHR) that enable professional care providers to achieve interoperability, service optimization and enhanced security. Investments in AutoID solutions, particularly barcode label printers and handheld scanners, are increasing within the healthcare services vertical driven by the need to maintain compliance with evolving, stringent regulations and mandates to protect patient health information, including HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) in the United States. Read more

Epson Mobilizes to Address Rapidly Growing mPOS Opportunity

Still questioning whether consumer-grade mobile POS (mPOS) devices are a short-lived trend or a here-to-stay expansion of the broader front-end technology solutions at many leading mainstream merchants? Here is another strong point in favor of the latter: Epson, the global market leader in POS receipt printers, recently announced its Mobilink P60 mobile receipt and label printer supports Bluetooth connectivity to facilitate wireless pairing with all Apple i-devices and a diversity of other Bluetooth-equipped consumer-grade devices. Read more

VeriFone Furls its SAIL

Less than a year after launching its SAIL m.payment solution, payment terminal giant VeriFone has essentially pulled the plug on the product, which is its version of a Square-style card reader dongle. Citing a number of major challenges, including fierce competition in this nascent, but rapidly-growing market and the razor-thin margins on SAIL-based payments, the Company’s CEO officially disclosed SAIL would cease operations (save for continuing to service current users) in its recent Q4 earnings call. Read more

Gemalto, G&D and ARM Launch Trustonic JV to Ease NFC SE Pains, but Will it Really Help?

If you frequent this blog, you already know we are generally bearish on the NFC’s near-term prospects as a m.payment and m.commerce enabler. While the technology certainly has some great features and benefits, NFC faces too many challenges—several of which are highly complex and/or expensive to address—for it to reach mass adoption at a global level for the headline applications with which it is associated, at least for the next several years.  Read more

France-based m.Wallet Consortium Leader Chooses Barcode, not NFC

Auchan, a leading French supermarket chain, announced plans to launch a cross-merchant m.wallet app called Flash ‘n’ Pay (FNP). The FNP app will be very similar to the one currently in development at the Merchant-Customer Exchange (MCX), which we discussed in a previous post. Like MCX, the FNP app can be used with all credit/debit card brands, supports loyalty cards and is MNO and issuing-bank agnostic. FNP also shares the same enabling technology as MCX—the app will be barcode-based, not NFC. Read more

AutoID Market Shakeup - VDC's Thoughts on Honeywell Acquiring Intermec

At VDC, we have now, in a way, come to expect big acquisition-related news towards the end of calendar years – case in point, Datalogic’s acquisition of Accu-Sort and SMARTRAC N.V.’s acquisitions of UPM, KSW and Neology in Q4, 2011. Throughout 2012, VDC has talked about how we expect to see leading players in the space – for both barcode scanners and printers – to consider consolidating their competitive landscape and strengthen their leadership position in existing markets while also tapping into adjacent high-growth market opportunities.  Read more

Could RFID Lock Hack at US Hotel Chains Close the Door on NFC-enabled Security/Access Control Opportunity?

If you travel frequently, be warned: hackers have devised a way to bypass a particular type of electronic lock commonly found throughout leading hotel chains across the US. With a little spare time and about $50 in common tools and materials, criminals across the US have been building these devices to break into hotel rooms (supposedly) secured with electronic keycard locks. The resulting e-lock pick is about the size of a marker and can be used to crack Onity HT and Advance locks found in an estimated 4 to 5 million hotel rooms nationwide, including those at certain Hyatt, Ramada, Doubletree Hilton and Country Inn & Suites locations. Read more

NCR Continues to Diversify with Acquisition of Retalix

NCR formally announced this past Wednesday an agreement to acquire Retalix, an Israeli vendor of retail, marketing, supply chain and logistics software solutions. The transaction is valued at $30 per share, or approximately $650 million and is expected to close sometime during Q1 2013. NCR intends to finance the acquisition via a combination of cash and an existing debt facility. Via the acquisition of Retalix, NCR strengthens its competitive position in several respects. Read more

To NFC, or Not NFC? That Was My Personal Smartphone Question...

I admit it—I’m an Apple user. Call me whatever you want…fanboy, sheep, mindless minion worshipping at the altar of the Great Jobs. It doesn't bother me. In my experience, Apple stuff—while pricey—lasts longer, is generally easier to use for those of us who are not (and have aspirations of being) computer programmers and is usually (but not always) very well-designed and supported from UI, UX and aesthetic perspectives. Case in point: my recently deceased (cause of death: buggy “home” button) iPhone 3Gs provided nearly 4 years of trouble-free service despite the general abuse I heaped upon it. Read more

Google Wallet to Go “Back to the Future” to Drive NFC Adoption?

It is no big secret that Google Wallet has been challenged to gain adoption since it officially launched in September 2011. While the app faced a number of headwinds in its very early days, the initial version of Google Wallet was especially hamstrung by the very limited number of payment card types and smartphones that supported the app. Since its introduction, these problems have generally been addressed, as the app is now available on a broader range of devices and has implemented a new hybrid architecture that leverages cloud-based technology to enable almost any common credit/debit card to be used with Google Wallet. Read more

VDC Heads to the Big Apple for CET World 2012

The VDC AutoID team was in the Big Apple on Wednesday for the 2012 edition of Customer Engagement Technology World (CETW). Despite the recent hardships caused by Hurricane Sandy last week, this year’s show went on as scheduled and drew the usual, diverse crowd of vendors and end-users that attend CETW. Although the show floor was somewhat dominated by vendors of kiosk and digital signage hardware, software and solutions, other areas of the CET spectrum—including POS/mPOS terminals, consumer-facing mobile apps and customer analytics—were also well represented. Our observations at CETW 2012 left us with a several takeaways. Read more

Think Self-Checkout is Dead? Think Again.

During the past 18 months or so, we have observed a decidedly negative attitude towards the future viability of Self-Checkout (SCO) solutions in US retailers. Throughout 2011 and 2012, a number of large grocery chains—including Kroger and Albertsons—announced SCO lanes will be replaced with old-fashioned staffed lanes instead. The retail technology blogosphere has also joined the anti-automation bandwagon, with articles frequently bemoaning the clunky operation of early solutions and their perceived job-killing effect. Despite this anti-SCO sentiment, many store chains across all retail sub-verticals continue to offer SCO as a checkout option. Read more

RFID Could be the Prescription for Better Safety in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

VDC believes recent, high-profile cases of tainted pharmaceuticals in the US potentially could drive RFID adoption within the US pharmaceutical industry. For example, consider the fungal meningitis outbreak that has emerged during the past several weeks and, to date, caused 25 deaths. Ultimately, the meningitis cases were linked to steroids manufactured by a Massachusetts-based company. As a result of the national scale and severe consequences of this incident, the US pharmaceutical industry is under intense public and regulatory scrutiny—and we think new, more stringent legislation for pharma could be the result.  Read more

Trick, or Treat? ISIS (Finally) Launches , But Will Consumers Notice?

ISIS, the NFC-enabled m.wallet joint venture between three major US MNOs (AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile), has officially launched its pilot test in Salt Lake City and Austin. Despite facing a number of challenges and setbacks during the past 18 months, with the most recent being a delay in its planned Summer 2012 launch (which itself was a rescheduled date), on Monday, October 22nd ISIS finally went live. While ISIS (along with Google Wallet and NFC-enabled payment in general) has been massively hyped by the general media, we, quite frankly, doubt that ISIS is the solution that will drive the average person to adopt mobile payment. Read more

Datalogic Celebrates its 40th Anniversary

This week, Datalogic, a global leader in the market for barcode readers, mobile computers, machine vision systems, personal shopping/self-scanning systems and other AutoID solutions is celebrating its 40th anniversary. During its infancy in the early 70s, the Company specialized in the manufacture of photoelectric sensors for the textile, ceramics and packaging industries, but via ongoing investment in in-house R&D and strategic acquisitions, Datalogic’s product portfolio has steadily expanded to include a spectrum of AutoID solutions. Read more

Urban Outfitters CIO Says Its Checkouts are Going Fully Mobile

In a recent post, we discussed the impact mobile POS adoption is having on the broader POS market, particularly in the context of stationary POS heavyweights like NCR, IBM, Wincor-Nixdorf and the like. Long story short: m.POS has proven itself to be a valuable retail tool during the past 18-24 months, and has reshaped the POS competitive landscape as a result. An increasing number of merchants are investing in mobile POS, and in doing so, are disrupting some long-established conventions in retail automation technology. Urban Outfitters (UO) is among the latest examples of retailers that have committed to m.POS—and this particular apparel retailer has done so in a big way. Read more

Happy 60th Birthday to the First Barcode Patent Filing!

This week marks the 60th birthday of the first patent filing for a technology that is very close to our hearts here in the VDC AutoID practice: barcode. To most people, a barcode is nothing but a bunch of black and white lines on the products they purchase at the store, but for us—the AutoID professionals and enthusiasts of the world—the barcode is an efficient, elegant and cost-effective way of storing and accessing data that has stood the test of time.  Read more

A Savvy Acquisition of Savi Technology?

In the late 2000s, Savi Technology, an active RFID solutions provider, was among the major beneficiaries of an approximately $430 million US Department of Defense (DoD) contract commonly referred to as “RFID III” (The Company also enjoyed strong growth through earlier announced large DoD RFID contracts). One of the principle objectives of this RFID funding was achieving “In-Transit Visibility” (ITV), which essentially meant establishing real-time insight into the progress and location of various DoD assets (e.g., cargo, personnel, vehicles, equipment, etc.) during their journey through the supply chain—from point of origin to final destination.  Read more

Consumer-Grade Devices in Retail-Now It’s Serious

How does one discern when an emerging technology trend (for example, using consumer devices for POS applications in retail) is materially impacting a well-established market from a broader, macro-level perspective? Answer: The moment one (or more) of the share leaders in that particular market implicitly acknowledges the trend in question, either via the launch of a new product, acquisition, partnership, or some other form of strategic maneuvering.  Read more

A Quick Scan of the 2012 AIM Summit Conference

Last week the VDC Auto ID team visited Chicago for the 2012 AIM Summit. AIM (Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility) is an industry standards and education organization dedicated to all AutoID and Mobility technologies—including barcode, RFID, RTLS and mobile devices. VDC was pleased to participate in this year’s event—both as attendees and presenters. AutoID VP Mike Liard delivered the opening keynote address during which he discussed current trends impacting the barcode and RFID markets. With a broad focus encompassing all AutoID technologies, there was a lot to take in during the event.  Read more

Part Deux—NFC World Congress Day 2—Exhibition Recap & Highlights

Bonjour once again from the NFC World Congress in Nice, France. While yesterday’s introductory session focused exclusively on keynote addresses and panel discussions, today the exhibition floor is full of activity with NFC vendors from across the globe showing off their latest and greatest. Read more

Bonjour from the NFC World Congress—Day 1 Conference Recap

VDC is back at the NFC World Congress in beautiful Nice, France. With a larger roster of delegates and exhibitors participating in this year’s conference, the event was moved from Sophia Antipolis (one of the suburbs surrounding Nice) right into the heart of the city for 2012. The first day of the Congress was dedicated to panel discussions and presentations, but thanks to a robust, well-rounded lineup of speakers, there is no shortage of interesting NFC-related insight to share. Read more

Wait ‘til Next Year (At least)…No NFC for the iPhone 5

Today Apple unveiled its much-anticipated iPhone 5—but NFC was not among the new features. While the new iPhone includes LTE, a 4 inch screen and a range of other incremental improvements, there will be no NFC in the iPhone for at least another year. We expect Apple’s latest NFC snub caught some by surprise, especially because several NFC-related patents granted to Apple during the past year suggested that the iPhone 5 would include the technology. Read more

Groupe Casino Says “Ouí” to NFC, But “Non” to Payment

VDC has always maintained that NFC-enabled contactless payment is a long-term application opportunity, despite that hype and evangelism in the media often suggests otherwise. We believe NFC’s real near-term potential lies in B2C use-cases that are less complex, more easily-enabled and, most importantly, do not require the cooperation of multiple stakeholders or the use of a Secure Element (SE). Specific examples include mobile marketing, information access/content delivery and targeted coupons/offers.  Read more

Sensing a Ripe New RFID Opportunity

RFID soon could be used to reduce fruit spoilage during its journey through the supply chain, thanks to a new ethylene (a gaseous plant hormone that triggers fruit ripening) sensor developed by MIT chemistry professor, Timothy Swager. While ethylene sensors are already available, current solutions are too costly and unreliable for supply chain applications. In contrast, this new ethylene sensor will be low cost (as low as 25 cents) and capable of pairing with an RFID tag to enable remote, real-time ethylene monitoring. Furthermore, the sensor design provides high sensitivity—to levels as low as 0.5 PPM—which makes it well-suited to monitoring produce crates, shipping containers and warehouses. Read more

Walmart Could Bring Self-Scanning to the Mainstream

Self-scanning adoption remains very low among US merchants, but Walmart could singlehandedly change that in the near term. The retailing giant recently announced it is currently testing its own self-scanning app, called “Scan and Go,” exclusively among employees at one of its Arkansas stores.  Read more

Have ISIS’ Summer Pilot Hopes Faded?

While summer does not officially end until September 22nd, the passing of Labor Day marks the unofficial transition to autumn and everything that comes with it—more temperate weather, back-to-school and shorter days. Along with the fading daylight hours, we think the hopes of the expected ISIS mobile wallet pilot tests in Austin, TX and Salt Lake City, UT are diminishing as well. ISIS (an m.wallet joint venture of three major US MNOs—AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile) has long maintained that it would launch a planned two-city pilot of its m.wallet during summer 2012. However, considering summer is fading fast and the ongoing absence of any new pilot-related details from ISIS, it seems unlikely that these plans will come to fruition. Read more

RFID Gets a Bit of Consumerization via Alien Technology’s iAlien App

The concept of the “consumerization of IT” generally refers to the increasingly common dynamic whereby consumer grade devices—from various perspectives including form factor, features, and software, just to name several—play a highly influential role in guiding enterprise IT development and adoption strategies. Consider the case of smartphones and tablets. These are two key device categories driving this trend as of late—not just in the sense that enterprises are increasingly using consumer-grade smartphones/tablets for applications where rugged/semi-rugged enterprise-grade devices would previously have been the only choice—but also from the vantage point of their sphere of influence. Read more

Bird’s Nest Farmers Find RFID Hard to Swallow…

When the concept of retail item-level RFID tagging was in its nascence, conspiracy theories abounded among privacy and civil rights activists, who believed that merchants such as Wal-Mart and the government would leverage these nefarious devices (dubbed “spy tags”) to track every movement of their customers/citizens as they went about their daily routines in their new Levi’s.  Read more

Tier 1 Merchants Want You to Open Your (Mobile) Wallet

If you thought there was no room for yet another m.wallet competitor, think again. More than a dozen of the largest Tier 1 retailers in the US have joined forces to create the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which will develop a mobile wallet app that enables consumers to pay, redeem coupons and receive personalized offers via smartphone at participating merchants. Founding members of the MCX consortium include Wal-Mart, Target, 7-Eleven, Best Buy, CVS, Lowes, Shell and Sunoco (among others), but if the MCX m.wallet is well received among consumers, we expect other merchants will be likely to join in the future. Read more

The Rumors of ViVOtech’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Well, maybe not greatly exaggerated…but certainly overstated, according to the most recent statements from the Company. The past week has brought a flurry of doom-and-gloom rumors surrounding payment terminal and solution provider ViVOtech, one of the more prominent NFC payment solution providers. While there does seem to be an element of truth to the preliminary headlines, it now appears that the outlook for the Company is somewhat less dire than the original rumors indicated. Read more

Remembering Bert Moore, AutoID Industry Veteran

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Bert Moore, a 25+ year veteran of the AutoID industry and a recognized expert on the subject, who passed away on July 6, 2012. His tremendous contributions to this community will be missed, but Bert will live on through the legacy of his stewardship and educational efforts on behalf of the entire AutoID ecosystem. Read more

Enable IPC Puts a Charge into the Active UHF Tag Market

Active tags are the tag type of choice for enterprises leveraging RFID for applications where tagged objects move dynamically and requirements exist for precise tracking/tracing capability, including asset tracking/management, remote monitoring, work-in-process tracking/tracing and RTLS. While active RFID tags generally meet the requirements of the aforementioned applications, there are two key shortcomings associated with this tag type: cost and battery life. However, Enable IPC, a supplier of RFID tags, has addressed the latter issue with a new solar-powered active UHF tag it recently introduced in partnership with William Frick & Company.  Read more

LevelUp Levels the Payment Playing Field against NFC via Barcodes/QR Codes

Among the barriers NFC contactless payment faces on the road to broad adoption, none may be as challenging as identifying and proving sufficient value to merchants and other B2C enterprises that justifies their investment in such a solution. However, the Cambridge-based company LevelUp, an offshoot of the startup company SCVNGR, has found a way to justify merchants’ investment in a contactless payment solution. However, there is a small catch—it’s QR code-based, not NFC.  Read more

US Government Investment--The Prescription for Growth in the RTLS Healthcare Market?

Real-Time Location System (RTLS) solutions have benefitted from significant media coverage this year, most notably due to recent activity in the market for solutions targeted at the healthcare sector. VDC Research believes RTLS solutions are on a strong growth path in this vertical for a number of reasons. Major indicators include a steady stream of announcements showcasing new, prominent deployments, government initiatives/funding and mounting asset management and visibility challenges that are fueling demand for wireless solutions in the healthcare industry.  Read more

Which Application Will Drive Consumer NFC Adoption? Samsung Lets You Decide…

Which NFC application will be the first to gain broad acceptance among consumers? The answer to this ongoing question is not much clearer now than it was a year ago, despite the numerous new NFC-enabled smartphones that have reached the market during the past 12 months. Many enterprises and NFC vendors are thinking ambitiously when it comes to driving consumer adoption, with use-cases like mobile payment, mobile marketing, and other relatively complex B2C applications being the cornerstones of many enterprises’ strategies.  Read more

Part 2 of 2: Security/Access Control Could “Unlock” Domestic Opportunity for NFC

While enterprise environments present the most obvious market opportunity for vendors of NFC-enabled Security/Access Control solutions, we believe the consumer/domestic market also has strong potential to drive near-term growth in the NFC market. As NFC-enabled smartphones increasingly win share among consumers, this domestic Security/Access Control opportunity will ripen as consumers seek to leverage NFC technology embedded in personal devices for a broader range of uses, both in- and out-of-home.  Read more

Part 1 of 2: Universities "Tap" NFC for Campus Security/Access Control

Security/Access Control is one of the leading non-payment NFC applications. Generally, NFC-enabled Security/Access Control deployments to date have been within corporate or academic campus environments, but home security vendors are beginning to introduce products that leverage NFC for domestic applications. Accordingly, we will examine this application in greater detail from the perspectives of enterprise/campus and consumer/domestic deployment. This part 1 of 2 will discuss enterprise/campus Security/Access Control, while the following post will focus on consumer/domestic applications.  Read more

NCR Makes 2D Barcode Secure Enough for ATM Cash Withdrawals

In recent posts, I have discussed some of the headwinds NFC faces in respect to achieving mainstream adoption. One of the most critical challenges facing NFC is that many of the applications it enables are achievable via other, more established technologies such as QR codes and 2D barcodes, usually with less cost and integration complexity to boot. To counter this criticism, NFC proponents are quick to point out that these competing solutions have their own shortcomings, particularly in respect to their lack of security.  Read more

Apple Confirms m.Wallet Application in iOS 6…

...But, contrary what the NFC-related rumors swirling around Apple would suggest, this app uses QR codes, not NFC. At the company’s 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote address, the company introduced an updated version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6, which features Passbook, a new mobile wallet app that enables a range of cards, tickets, coupons and other credential types to be stored electronically in a mobile device. Passbook is an app tailor-made for many of the use cases associated with NFC—transportation and event ticketing, loyalty, mobile marketing/couponing and, of course, mobile payment, but leverages QR codes instead of NFC.  Read more

NFC Secure Element Issue No SIM-ple Matter: Key Questions Surface at London Underground

SIM-based secure elements (SEs) do not meet the performance requirements for applications—such as transportation ticketing—where customer throughput is a key metric. Well, this is at least the opinion of Shashi Verma, the Director of Customer Experience of the London Underground. Verma recently went on record stating that current SIM-based SEs are too slow to deliver the required levels of passenger throughput on London’s public transport network. The critical question of SE ownership is a contentious issue that could potentially delay the broad deployment of secure NFC applications—such as ticketing, contactless payment and security/access control.  Read more

The New Balance Experience Store in Boston Runs Away with RFID

The opening of New Balance’s newest store in Boston, The New Balance Experience Store, coincided with the April running of the Boston Marathon. The company utilized RFID on a number of fronts, both inside and outside of the store, to engage customers and extract valuable business intelligence (BI).  Read more

AT&T Enables Mobile Marketing Beyond Large Retailers and Brands with New Small Business Services Offering

AT&T recently announced that it will be extending mobile barcode services to its small business customers. As mobile barcodes continue to gain in popularity, businesses of all sizes including smaller retailers, brands, restaurants and enterprises will have an opportunity to deliver marketing content to consumer mobile devices. Read more

Why Would Apple Wait ‘n’ See with NFC?

“Will the iPhone 5 have NFC?” This is by far the most frequently asked question we hear when speaking with large enterprises considering NFC adoption. Many assume Apple’s near-term support of NFC is inevitable, as if it is a required response to competitors such as Samsung, RIM and Nokia integrating NFC into a number of handsets already available today. Certain NFC-related patents filed by Apple over the past two months have further boosted the belief that an NFC-enabled iPhone is inevitable.  Read more

Barnes & Noble Hooks Up the Nook With an NFC Upgrade

NFC is set to make its debut on an e-reader device. Last week Barnes & Noble announced its Nook e-reader will support NFC in the near future—perhaps by the end of 2012. Historically, the vast majority of mobile devices with embedded NFC capability have been smartphones, with the exception of a few niche tablet offerings. This remains true today, although we expect to see increasing near-term availability of other NFC form factors.  Read more

Visa's Stance on Mobile Wallets vis-á-vis

Visa has ratcheted up the competition level in the European mobile wallet market—and will likely do so in North America before the year’s end. The company just announced that, its in-house mobile wallet solution catering to both consumers and merchants, will launch in parts of Western Europe by Fall 2012. A rollout in the US and Canada is expected to follow shortly thereafter.  Read more

MBTA Gets Onboard With Mobile Ticketing

The MBTA, greater Boston’s public transportation system, just announced plans to deploy a mobile barcode-based ticketing solution across its entire commuter rail network. This solution, which will operate on Android, iOS and Blackberry devices, is expected to be operational by year’s end and will facilitate the ticketing process both for passengers and conductors. While passengers will benefit from an additional, always-accessible fare purchasing option, conductors’ jobs will be facilitated by reduced ticket punching and cash collection duties.  Read more

US EMV Migration…Opportunity Abounds, but Will it be Fulfilled?

With April upon us, the one year countdown to the first step in the US EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) migration mandate has begun. The April 2013 deadline, which requires acquiring banks to upgrade their systems in order to accept EMV transactions, primarily impacts the financial institutions that process card payments on behalf of merchants. Next year’s milestone, which is the first point on the migration roadmaps of Visa, Mastercard and Discover, primarily impacts acquiring banks, which function as an intermediary between the merchant and the card network (e.g., Visa).  Read more

Company Spotlight: austriamicrosystems Seeks Growth by Tapping the NFC market & Acquisition

Austriamicrosystems is a rapidly growing provider of RFID reader ICs. In stark contrast to many RFID chip vendors, austriamicrosystems ignores the tag market entirely, focusing strictly on more sophisticated reader ICs that highlight the company’s considerable R&D and manufacturing abilities. Two recent strategic moves, in conjunction with the company’s vertically integrated operational structure and well-established track record of innovative, high-performance ICs, have led to rapid share gains and revenue growth. Read more

IEEE Standard to Enable Greater Global Adoption of Active RF Solutions

The IEEE is about to publish its 802.15.4f standard. This amendment is designed to create a more open, global active RFID standard that is capable of supporting multiple products and frequencies. The first iteration of this standard – 802.15.4a – was overly complex, frequency restrictive and required dedicated silicon (chips) … it was not very capable of supporting the increasingly robust solution sets being offered by the ever diverse vendor community. The 4f amendment directly addresses these limitations and is a critical step in the right direction toward full solution interoperability.  Read more

Getting a Local Read on the Auto-ID Market: MIT Annual Auto-ID & Sensing Expo Recap

Last night the VDC Auto-ID team was in Cambridge for the MIT Enterprise Forum’s 3rd Annual AutoID & Sensing Expo. With approximately 50 exhibitors showing off their latest Auto-ID solutions and two engaging panel discussions, this event offered a valuable opportunity to engage with the RFID, Barcode and NFC communities right in our own backyard. Whereas this event is smaller in scale relative to other multi-day Auto-ID conferences, there were not many new products debuting last night.  Read more

To Reach NFC Contactless Payments, Follow the EMV Roadmap...

Put EMV (EuroPay, Mastercard and Visa) migration near the top of the list of factors that could spur NFC adoption among US merchants. VDC has been actively communicating why we believe non-payment NFC applications, such as smart marketing, loyalty and couponing will drive merchants’ NFC adoption and that contactless payments will follow. Speaking strictly in the context of NFC applications, our views on this topic remain unchanged. During our visit last week to Cartes North America in Las Vegas, however, we validated our belief that EMV migration represents another potential catalyst for merchants’ NFC adoption.  Read more

Better Late Than Never...Apple Gets Involved with NFC

Apple may be arriving to the party fashionably late, but if its recent patent activity is indicative of its future plans, the company is readying itself to join the list of device manufacturers offering NFC smartphones. Last week Apple was granted a patent for “Parental Controls,” which initially sounds like a fairly innocuous, ho-hum development. Upon closer examination, however, this patent is actually related to a virtual wallet application, which, not surprisingly, is called “iWallet.”  Read more

The New Read on Metal Tag Market

Its basic physics: liquids and metals cause interference and distortion with RF waves.. And if RFID is to be used pervasively throughout the enterprise and value chain, it needs to work in the presence of these materials. Awareness of this problem and the opportunity available to those who can address it aren’t new - companies have developed transponders designed specifically for this purpose and that market continues to grow (see our previous blog on the Read On Metal (ROM) Market). What is new is that the ROM market is now suddenly about to change.  Read more

Cartes North America: Day Two in Review from Las Vegas

Today was day two of Cartes North America in Las Vegas. The VDC AutoID team had another full day of meeting vendors, listening to panel discussions and strolling the show floor. EMV migration and NFC again were the dominant themes, as we met with a number of services, hardware and end-to-end solution providers catering to every stratum of the payment value chain.  Read more

Cartes North America...Recap from Day One in Las Vegas

Greetings from Cartes North America here in warm and sunny Las Vegas! The VDC AutoID team is here at the conference to learn about the latest and greatest in the smartcard solutions market and will be blogging regularly during our visit to keep you abreast of what we have been seeing and hearing at the show. Today was a busy first day of vendor meetings and panel discussions.  Read more

"Marvell-ing" at the Competition in the NFC IC Market

Could commoditization already be looming on the horizon for the NFC hardware market? VDC thinks it is closer than many industry participants realize. The competitive landscape of the NFC chip market is becoming increasingly crowded, with Intel entering the market in January 2012, Texas Instruments following suit in mid-February, and earlier this week, Marvell Technology Group announcing its entry.  Read more

RFID Inside of Me?

Have you heard about this? A Stanford medical researcher recently discovered that, contrary to common belief, HF frequencies actually transmit quite well within the human body. This realization prompted her to develop a micro-sized antenna which she then used to power an RF device capable of ‘swimming’ within a person’s bloodstream. (See original article here.) On one hand, this discovery borders on being disconcertingly sci-fi, and conjures thoughts of Isaac Asimov’s ‘Fantastic Voyage.’ At the same time, an intravascular RF device is an exciting development that could eventually open a new world of possibilities for medical treatment and research, although such applications are a long way from becoming reality. Still, we believe this concept holds tremendous promise, as it could provide significant, undeniable value to all healthcare stakeholders— including the patient.  Read more

Could NFC "Tap" into the Popularity of Mobile Barcode?

Could a catalyst for consumer NFC adoption be another type of technology? We believe it’s possible. The rapid emergence of near field communication (NFC) during the past 12 months, particularly in the context of NFC-enabled smartphones, has vendors and developers working furiously to create solutions that they hope will be The Next Big Thing. While these efforts have resulted in numerous application concepts ranging from mobile wallets to e-couponing to social networking, no specific application (or application type) has yet gained widespread acceptance among consumers.  Read more

Get a Little Closer to your Sweetheart with AutoID

Are you a Valentine’s Day procrastinator? You are not alone and it’s not too late. AutoID is here to save the day. In the spirit of everyone’s ‘favorite’ Hallmark holiday, we decided to blog about how an AutoID-enabled ecosystem can help ensure a romantic, love-filled day with your significant other. Read more

Could Health Care Inject More Life into NFC?

This past Monday, NFC Cluster Boston held an event at MIT entitled “NFC in Smartphones Transforms Healthcare.” Given MIT’s long track record of technology innovation, we were particularly excited to hear what some of the leading minds were thinking about NFC and its potential in health care. Furthermore, whereas the majority of NFC events are related to contactless payment and other B2C applications, we thought this conference would provide exposure to some innovative use-cases beyond the aforementioned “usual suspects.”  Read more

Trolling for Dollars

RFID technology and application patents have been a topic of industry debate for many years, particularly those tied to passive UHF EPC Gen 2 technology. Historically, RFID patent activity has centered on patent pooling efforts, consortium building and the occasional patent infringement suit between or among vendors. However, the industry is facing a new threat: NPEs (non-practicing entities), more commonly known as patent trolls. And, one in particular, Round Rock Research LLC (Round Rock), is capturing headlines by filing suit against major RFID users including Macy’s, GAP Inc, J.C. Penny, Hanes, Dole, Pepsi as well as passive UHF end users in a variety of industries.  Read more

Nintendo Makes NFC Technology Vendors Say "Wiiiiii!!"

Nintendo’s Wii platform revolutionized the home videogame console with its motion-sensing controller, thereby enabling a more interactive gaming experience. With its latest version of this platform, the Wii U, Nintendo is looking to push the envelope once again…and this time, NFC (Near Field Communication) is positioned as the big differentiator. The Wii U features a NFC-enabled touch-screen controller, and will initially leverage its NFC capability for payment, player profile creation, game card management, and/or avatar/character creation and storage.  Read more

Company Spotlight: Datalogic Shifts to Acquisition-Based Growth Strategy

Datalogic has historically been the European share leader in the stationary industrial scanning market, relying on revenues derived from sales in the region to maintain its position on the global leaderboard. The company’s presence in the US – one of the biggest markets for these products – has, however, been fairly low following marginally successful attempts to effectively penetrate the region via organic growth strategies. The company is now employing an acquisition-driven strategy to ensure it is able to capture and grow share within the region.  Read more

Reposition RTLS … in Real-time

This is a call to all Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) solution providers … You’re markets don’t fully understand your solutions and their value.  Based on our recently completed global survey of 350 enterprises, the vast majority of enterprises using or planning to use RTLS systems have. Read more

Voice of the Customer: 3 Things an RTLS Supplier Needs to Know

We just completed a global study of enterprise end users of Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) and it revealed some interesting insights about what companies that are using or adopting RTLS are/will be looking for from their vendors. Although there is a wide array of requirements enterprises are placing on their RTLS solution providers, the following three are critical for RTLS vendors to address.  Read more


NFC was a pervasive theme at the 2012 NRF show held this week in New York City. Technology vendors of all types were talking about their plans for integrating NFC into their product portfolios and, in many cases, displaying their latest NFC-enabled solutions. Whereas NFC is a nascent, still-developing technology, its presence remains somewhat confined to a few key product categories, but as consumer adoption of NFC smartphones scales in 2012 and beyond, we expect to see an increasingly broad range of customer engagement/retail automation solutions incorporate NFC into their design. What follows is an overview of some of the notable NFC activity at this year’s NRF. Read more

NFC Payments … Good Things Will Come to Those Who Wait

Near Field Communication (NFC) is the focus of much media attention these days, but most of this coverage is concerned more with future opportunities rather than what is happening in the present.  Evangelism and media hype have resulted in consumers who are aware of the technology perceiving it almost exclusively as a contactless payment solution that enables mobile phones to function as a credit/debit card. And with recent announcements, media coverage, and overall activity levels (pertaining to NFC payments) it’s hard not to think of it as such.  Read more

VDC Research’s RFID Takeaways from NRF Big Show 2012

At this year’s NRF show, RFID technology made the strongest showing VDC Research has seen yet. From RFID vendors and their solution partners showcasing innovative end-to-end application offerings to big retailers and brands reaffirming their RFID adoption plans, rollouts and program extensions it was clear that RFID is increasingly being positioned as a core technology that enables enterprises to “engage and evolve” (the theme of this year’s show). Read more

Barcoding at the NRF

I’m back from spending an interesting day at the NRF Expo in New York City. The booths were teeming with activity, and an extensive array of products was on display – mobility, of course, continued to be the raging theme dominating the in-store customer engagement technologies market.  Read more

Why the Zebra and OATSystems/Checkpoint Partnership is a Good Fit

Zebra and OAT/Checkpoint – two established leaders in their respective markets - announced that they entered into a “cooperative relationship and licensing agreement”. The non-exclusive arrangement affords Zebra with an OEM license for OATxpress™, a middleware platform used for capturing, filtering and managing data from AutoID systems. I say AutoID here – not RFID – because the OAT product is a true AutoID platform, not only capable of supporting a host of AutoID and sensor solutions, but also capable of supporting further application development.  Read more

Intel gets Involved with NFC

Intel has joined the ranks of companies looking to profit from the rapid growth expected in the NFC market during 2012. In Q4 2011, the company announced a partnership with INSIDE Secure, whereby it will license several of INSIDE’s NFC offerings for use in its own products. Today, Intel revealed at CES 2012 that its new Ivy Bridge chipset supports NFC, particularly for payment and e-commerce applications. The company further disclosed that Ivy Bridge will be featured in up to 75 ultrabook devices that are expected to reach the market during 2012.  Read more

What Themes Dominated the CET Market in 2011

In 2011, there were 3 themes that dominated the customer engagement technology (CET) landscape - Mobility, Convergence and Application Development. The need to take the store (or the checkout environment, in the least) to the customers at the point-of-decision, as opposed to drawing them to siloed touchpoints, is contributing to this growing demand for a seamless & consistent shopping experience across multiple customer-facing technology solutions.  Read more

Intel gets Involved with NFC

Near Field Communication (NFC) is the focus of much media attention these days, but most of this coverage is concerned more with future opportunities rather than what is happening in the present.  Evangelism and media hype have resulted in consumers who are aware of the technology perceiving it almost exclusively as a contactless payment solution that enables mobile phones to function as a credit/debit card. And with recent announcements, media coverage, and overall activity levels (pertaining to NFC payments) it’s hard not to think of it as such.  Read more

Intel gets Involved with NFC

Near Field Communication (NFC) is the focus of much media attention these days, but most of this coverage is concerned more with future opportunities rather than what is happening in the present.  Evangelism and media hype have resulted in consumers who are aware of the technology perceiving it almost exclusively as a contactless payment solution that enables mobile phones to function as a credit/debit card. And with recent announcements, media coverage, and overall activity levels (pertaining to NFC payments) it’s hard not to think of it as such.  Read more