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ADT at Gartner ITxpo: Gartner on RFID

The sensor network, already emerging from applications of RFID chips, will transform computing and life as we know it by 2014, predicts Gartner fellow Tom Austin.

Holding up a vial containing tiny RFID chips, Austin told attendees at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2004 in San Diego that the chips will impact every industry -- going far beyond their current role in Wal-Mart's supply-chain management experiments.

While some consumer advocates express concern about the privacy dangers inherent in putting silicon bar codes in every piece of merchandise bought, Austin foresees healthcare applications where RFID "may save your life."

He imagines a future scenario where an unconscious patient is wheeled into an emergency room and the doctors and nurses instantly know all current medications and drug allergies from information supplied by the patient's RFID tag.

Coupled with ultra wide-band and WiMAX, RFID chips will be able -- in the next decade -- to broadcast megabits of data over a 30-mile radius, thus connecting RFID chips to the Internet, Austin said. This will allow for agri-business applications, such as vineyards where every vine is monitored for irrigation and climate conditions, so grape growing can be micro-managed via a computer network, he explained.

Simultaneous to the evolution of RFID chips will be the development of Tera Architecture, which will allow for the real-time processing of terabytes of data, he predicted. This event-driven architecture will make it possible for applications to organize and make sense of the huge amounts of real-time data that RFID monitors will produce, Austin said.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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