The moment you put items into your cart at a supermarket, the payment is made automatically. Customers no longer have to wait in long lines at the counters. You can have detailed information on products on the shelves if you put your cell phone next to them. You can also have your own health checked and have access to a u-healthcare system built using wireless or wired networks anytime, anywhere.
You can also build an anti-disaster system that updates information in real time by making the most of the communications infrastructure based on a ubiquitous sensor network (USN). You can turn your electronic appliances at home on or off, or operate assembly line machines in your factory – all through the use of your cell phone or the Internet. This is based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.
The term ubiquitous refers to an information technology environment or an IT paradigm in which various computer-installed devices or systems make communications with their users seamless. We live in a world where what was considered impossible only a few years ago is now put within our grasp. In reality, this occurs in any country where an information and communications infrastructure is established. With computers naturally emerging as part of people’s everyday lives, everything has become intelligent and networked, making communications among people and between remote devices possible.
This shows that people are now entering a world where it is possible to do what they want anytime and anywhere. All this is possible thanks to a 1mm by 1mm microchip – an electronic RFID tag, which is an identification tag that symbolizes the era of digital technology. This microchip gives identifying information about target objects. USN is a combination of key computer science and engineering area technologies, including wireless networking, which can pick up and process various kinds of information that the sensor collects in real time.
As such, RFID/USN is the key infrastructure component of a ubiquitous society. With boundless growth potential, it can bring changes to all industrial sectorsas great as the Internet once did. This new technology is expected to lead a new information revolution, if it is applied to public and private sectors, including health, education, national defense, industrial logistics, living convenience, safety, dietary life, medical services, environment, and manufacturing. How we can develop this new industry is now emerging as a major task facing all of us today. The Korea IT Times interviewed Choi Sung-kyu, CEO of the Korea Association of RFID/USN, on tasks facing the RFID/USN industry today.
Q: How important is the RFID/USN industry today How is it related to business
A: Very important. It is used in every aspect of our daily lives. You use a RFID/USN system when you enter or leave your apartment, get into or out of your car, take the elevator or subway, pass highway tollgates, or visit public office buildings. But the RFID/USN industry doesn’t have as high added value as other industries such as semiconductors, shipbuilding or automobiles.
Unfortunately, many people are still reluctant to use the system for fear that details of their activities and their personal information, including transactions, might be exposed. Records of transactions are transmitted automatically to tax authorities. RFID/USN is a system that makes transactions transparent and helps prevent tax evasion, as it requires the use of credit cards.
Anyway, I think the RFID technology will keep developing in the future, given that it is a technology that helps distinguish between genuine and fake items. It satisfies people’s demand for safety and security, and therefore reassures them. The problem is, despite its importance and significance, people take no much interest in making the most of the RFID/USN system in all aspects of our daily lives.
Q: Where can we find business models for the RFID/USN industry
A: As a way to make a lucrative business model for RFID, businesses in advanced countries transact RFID data. For example, when someone sends goods through cargo services, he can also buy RFID services concerning the transport of the goods at an extra charge. He can check where his cargo is traveling currently, if its storage conditions are good, or if his cargo has arrived on time.
Then where should Korea find its own RFID/USN business model Realistically, who will bear the expenses for galvanizing the country’s RFID/USN Given its mandate to give priority to export competitiveness, the government of Korea, as an export-dependent country, should recognize the importance of RFID/USN once again. Another issue will arise – who will bear the costs for attaching RFID tags to goods We will also need a special policy to galvanize the satellite-based RFID data transaction business by entering into alliances with multinational enterprises. The government, then, should take the initiative in the public sector including production and other economic activities and welfare, so that it can trickle down to the private sector.
Q: How many RFID/USN products and solutions are exported
A: Korea has high-level RFID services. The country is exporting plants and equipment, building apartments or ports overseas, using Korean-made RFID/USN tags for almost all of them. Malaysia once imported 70 million Korean-made RFID/USN tags, almost all of which it has used up almost for making new resident registration cards for its people.
Q: What do you think the government should do to develop the RFID/USN industry
A: I think we need an integrated tracking system with which we can make the most of RFID/USN technology. The government is apparently thinking of RFID/USN technology merely as an auxiliary technology for the construction of Smart Highways, the four rivers project, a disaster management system, and a u-Bike network. If RFID/USN is considered merely an auxiliary system for grand projects, then we would have to import similar technologies from advanced countries instead of seeking technological development on our own. This would undermine the country’s IT potential. If there is no development in the IT sector, there will be no Green Growth, either.