In round figures, the value of the radio frequency identification (RFID) market grew strongly to $5 billion in 2007, mainly powered by a peak in deliveries of the Chinese national ID card with about $2 billion worth of cards and infrastructure being delivered by Chinese suppliers, say analysts at RFID constant IDTechEx Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.
That made China the biggest RFID market in the world, and the United States is second, analysts say.
Globally, the RFID business remained government driven with health care showing particularly strong growth in projects and the financial, security, safety sectors dwarfing all others in expenditure and number of projects.
Government RFID applications accounted for 48 percent of market value with passenger transport and automotive coming second with a 19 percent value share.
The IDTechEx Knowledge base of RFID projects added 509 projects in 2007 to reach 3,096 projects in 101 countries and involving 4231 organizations. Newly recorded projects represented 20 percent growth in the size of the database, reflecting the rapid growth of the market way beyond the Chinese ID card.
The database has added more than 500 more consumer goods companies mandated by retailers to tag pallets and cases, yet most of these are doing little or nothing in the face of the huge financial cost and lack of payback.
Through 2007, the U.S. retained its lead in number of RFID projects but China leapt from number five to number three, overtaking Japan and Germany, analysts say. There are a vast number of new RFID projects in China that will take up the slack now that the glory days of the national ID card are over.
Chinese projects are hugely varied from pigs to mail bags and the prospect of having to tag 150 million pet dogs and 2.4 billion pigs yearly by law. Maybe the 37.5 billion cigarette packets produced every year will be RFID tagged.
In number of projects, the financial, security, and safety sector was the biggest at about 19 percent of the cumulative projects in 2007, analysts say. Passports drove this segment, and RFID financial cards all moving ahead strongly. New adoption of RFID tickets, secure access, RFID-enabled phones and other applications also helped this sector.
After that came the passenger transport, automotive sector with 13 percent of all projects cumulatively. Those percentages were the same as in 2006.
Just one application sector took significantly more of the pie by the end of 2007. It was health care. This was predicted in 2006 but it did not happen for the reason given—widespread tagging of drugs for anti-counterfeiting purposes. Many were in favor of the half measure of 2D bar codes for singulation.
The vibrant growth of RFID in the health care sector was mainly due to real time location systems (RTLS) on staff and assets, particularly those using existing WiFi systems in hospitals.
By the end of 2007, the RFID tagging of people had jumped from 8 percent to 11 percent of all projects cumulatively, which enabled mother-baby mismatches and baby theft to be reduced, pedophiles to be controlled, prisoner escapes prevented, and severe diabetics getting correct treatment.
Active RFID accounted for about 13 percent of all RFID expenditure in 2007, but this figure was depressed by the huge Chinese national ID card scheme, which involves passive RFID.
Active RFID will now be powered by two waves. RTLS is the first wave, with 2007 seeing the first major deliveries, including about 100 health care facilities adopting RTLS. Ubiquitous Sensor Networks will be the second wave but it has yet to begin in any serious manner.
The leading frequency in 2007 remained HF (13.56 MHz) because so many of these projects were huge, from 25 million library books and 16 million travel cards in Beijing to the $6 billion Chinese ID card. In fact, HF RFID just to the ISO14443 specification was responsible for about 10 times the expenditure on RFID to any other specification, with large new applications added such as passports and RFID enabled phones.
For more information, visit IDTechEx online at www.IDTechEx.com/U.S. Access the IDTechEx RFID database at www.rfidbase.com.