Active RFID Update: Rapid Growth, Strong Investment

Cambridge, UK — July 13, 2007 — The market for active RFID technology is growing faster than other radio frequency identification technology sectors and is responsible for an increasing percentage of the money spend in the RFID market, with logistics-related projects making up the largest number of active RFID projects to date, according to a new report from IDTechEx.

In its new research report, "Active RFID and Sensor Networks 2007-2017," IDTechEx notes that the term "active RFID" incorporates many technologies, including real-time locating systems (RLTS), ubiquitous sensor networks and active RFID with Zigbee, RuBee, Ultra Wide Band and WiFi.

In IDTechEx's analysis of 75 active RFID case studies from 18 countries, the largest number of projects has been in logistics, with around double the number for each of the nearest contenders: air industry, automotive/transportation and healthcare. Added to those as important sectors will be such things as safety of constructions and people monitoring. Meanwhile, RTLS is being put in about 50 hospitals yearly, for staff, patients and assets. In the case studies, the items that are tagged were mainly containers, followed by vehicles, conveyances and people.

Factors Driving Growth

Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx, summarizing results of the report, suggests that active RFID, where a battery drives the tag, will rise from 12.7 percent of the total RFID market this year to 26.3 percent in 2017, amounting to a $7.07 billion market. "If we include the market for cell phone RFID modules (another form of active RFID), the market is an additional $0.44 billion in 2007 and $1.2 billion in 2017," Das adds.

The primary factors creating this growth will be real-time locating systems (RTLS), and ubiquitous RFID sensor systems (mainly disposable), including so-called "smart active labels" (SALs), according to IDTechEx. Conventional active RFID, used where passive solutions are inadequate, and RFID modules for mobile phones will make up the rest.

Das says that the rapid growth of the active RFID market is being driven by such factors as:

  • Much stronger market demand for tracking, locating and monitoring people and things. This is driven by security, safety, cost and customer satisfaction, for example.

  • Reduction in cost and size of the tags and systems.

  • Development of ubiquitous sensor networks (USN), where large numbers of active RFID tags with sensors are radio networked in buildings, forests, rivers, hospitals and many other locations.

  • Availability of open standards — notably ISO 18000-7, IEEE 802.15.4 and NFC.

  • Leveraging many popular forms of short-range wireless communication, particularly WiFi, UWB and ZigBee and including mesh networks.

  • Use of mobile phones for purchasing, mass transit, etc.
Active RFID Sales to 2007

Strong Investment