Can RFID Change the World?

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This week, Zebra Technologies launched an interesting social-media contest known as "Imagine More." The contest, being run on Zebra's Facebook page, challenges the general public to submit ideas about how radio frequency identification technology might be used to solve "anything from a simple household problem to a global social issue."

During the contest, qualifying participants can win prizes, such as gift cards, electronics and promotional merchandise. A panel of RFID technology experts will select the best submission, and the winning contestant will receive the opportunity to bring his or her RFID idea to life through $10,000 worth of Zebra Technologies solutions, as well as the consultative support of a Zebra engineer.

The contest, according to a press release, "is meant to encourage deeper conversations about RFID and inspire not only the technologically savvy," but also "positive ways today's technology can impact tomorrow's world."

To enter, a person simply visits the "Imagine More" contest on Zebra Technologies global Facebook page and enters his or her name, phone number, e-mail address and RFID-related idea. Participants can upload supporting photographs or videos to enhance their submissions, and they can learn more about RFID technology at zebra.com.

There are a number of things that I find interesting about this contest. One is that it is being promoted via Facebook and is clearly aimed at the general public, and not Zebra's usual business-to-business audience. Will this help Zebra sell more products? It's difficult to say, but I believe it will help promote Zebra as a force in the RFID industry.

What I find particularly noteworthy is that Zebra clearly wants to be known among consumers as an RFID company. A few years ago, businesses perceived that consumers saw RFID as a tool to invade their privacy, and many did not want to be known as RFID companies. So it would appear that the technology's public image is changing (unless Zebra has misread the public mood, which I do not think is the case).

Another thing that is interesting is the concept of using RFID to promote the public good; other entities have run similar contests. I have always believed that the technology will benefit consumers as well as businesspeople. Approximately 20 percent of all food spoils in the supply chain. Improved tracking of food shipments and their temperatures via RFID sensors could reduce that number dramatically, bringing down prices for everyone. And that's just one small example.

I'm sure the Zebra contest will receive some great ideas. 

Last update: Jul 18, 2016

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