stevedb

RFID

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stevedb

Hey All

Who can tell me how big RFID is in Canada. (Radio Frequency Identification) Active tagging, tracking and monitoring, Wireless solutions

Stephen

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Harry

Steve,

I don't know how big the really practical market is, but I certainly helped to license that technology from SA into Canada in the mid- 90's already ( 94-96). At the time the Canadian arrangement was with Samsys. They were talking to pallet manufacturers at the time.

I spent about four years in that business, but Canada was not a major focus at the time. Licenses went to companies in Japan, SA, France, UK and Canada. Chips were made in Switzerland ( and still are) and there was strong interest from Singapore for the volume chip manufacturing role.

Much of the applications interest was for logistics management, both in the Private Sector and in the Military.

I see the Samsys CEO, Cliff Horwitz, has since become a nominated member of AIDC 100, a body that looks more broadly after the subject of RFID, based on his early use of the technology we gave him. Read more HERE.

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Seanhay

Hi Steve,

RFID is the buzz right now in the North American Logistics Industry.

Do a google search and you'll be kept busy for a while! B)

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digin

My feeling on RFID at the moment is that it's a lot like teenage boys attitude to sex: Everyone talks about it all the time, a lot brag about doing it, but very few are actually doing it, and those that are, are not doing it very well!

That being said, with Walmart making it a standard that all suppliers need to have RFID tags at least at the pallet level in the next few years, you can be sure that it will become more dominant in the retail industry.

One thing about Canada though: Since NAFTA does not apply to products made outside of the NAFTA region (Mexico / Canada / US), most companies that rely on large amounts of hardware are going to base themselves in the US. That way, since 80% of the market for a product in North America will be in the US, they will only have to get 80% of the product crossing the border more than once. Also, many companies in Canada are owned by the US, so the Canada operation gets treated as essentially as a division of the US parent company.

On the software side and research side though, there are probably a good set of Canadian companies focusing on RFID and wireless applications in general. We have had some success stories: the Blackberry being run on almost exclusively Canadian technology.

So a lot depends on your focus: if you are more network / hardware driven - you are most likely going to find work in US rather than Canada. On software / business analysis / research, Canada still has an industry even if it is somewhat smaller than its southern neighbour.

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Harry

The trouble for this field is "Whiz-bang" and "hype".

In th early days the interest was from the US Military, who had staggering logistics problems in the 1st Gulf War and vowed never to repeat those. That's why they got hold of me in various ways.

Unfortunately there were also some players that were over-hyping the subject at the time. Did this enormous damage to the credibility of all the players in the field.

The Dotcom bust at the beginning of this decade and the associated trashing of anything to do with technology in its broadest sense ( particularly telecommunications stuff) did not help at all.

Since then, I personally believe, the dust has settled somewhat and now the issues are the classic need for compelling applications, early adopters, the need for a single big party to move first ( eg Wal-Mart), and the pressures on getting the all-important Si-chip price down and (of course) standards.

I have not checked recently, but when I left the field in about '97, there was no tag protocol standard in sight.

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BevBrad
Steve,

I don't know how big the really practical market is, but I certainly helped to license that technology from SA into Canada in the mid- 90's already ( 94-96). HERE.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Harry,

Are you saying that this was a SA invention? This technology/concept is over 30 years old and a patent was originally granted to Mario Cardullo.

On May 21, 1970, they filed on our behalf the patent application for the RFID tag. The U.S. Patent Office issued the patent on January 23, 1973

I am genuinely curious of the SA involvement.

Brad

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Harry

Brad,

Not at all...it was not an SA invention. But, we did add an important aspect.

One of the key things in this field is the problem that, if you have more than one RFID tag present in the vicinity of the "reader", then they mutually interfere and it becomes tough for the system to work.

We addressed this problem, and the way we resolved it was so unique that it actually allowed tags with IDENTICAL identities (numbers or codes) to be read simultaneously. This was essentially the technical equivalent of regular consumer barcoding, in which two bags of chips have the identical barcode. Our organisation demonstrated this at the Hypermarket in the Eastern Suburbs of Pretoria by running a supermarket cart with RFID labelled products through a reader. This automatically totalled the 36-odd items in a handful of seconds.

This led to an international licensing arrangement with a British firm and ended me up meeting with folks from numerous places on this subject, including the US Defense Department (in both SA and the USA). It was licensed into Canada, Japan, UK , France, SA and later into the USA. It even caused a French supermarket chain to fly all their branch managers and their wives down to Jo'burg to have a demo in Sandton!

There are about seven US patents based on this invention, the first of which may be seen HERE.

You can read more about it here:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Interview in SA with US Office of Naval Research

More recent stuff

A summary of a German textbook on RFID that calls our stuff "futuristic"

Samsys, the Canadian effort on the subject, marketing it under the trade name FastTrak

The latest effort at a standard, listing our technology specifically

Article by Vincent Fuentes at EM-Marin, our chip manufacturer

Financial Mail bleeding about the benefit having been "lost" to SA

...I can go on and on and on. The facts are:

1. It works

2. The central issue is and will always be, unit cost reduction

3. The key to that is volume...economy of scale

4. This needs large players with a world view and cash for investment ( eg, in a chip)

5. The SA industry WAS offered this, and shrunk away...I was there. I should know.

6. When that failed, we went to BTG in Britain.. :cry:

7. It is now in a number of products, but I have lost track, having been out of it for some 6 years

8. The chip embodying the core protocol is made by EM-Marin as the P4022 and has more recently been superceded by new one.

When I left this project, I moved to another division in our organisation, and I applied to move to Canada. Part of the decision was based on my disenchantment with SA industry's inability to handle true innovation on a world scale. I thought the new centre of the technological universe was in fact Seattle. Vancouver is near Seattle. I now live here with a new career based on the international experience gained in that process.

I remain proud of what we achieved. It was due entirely to the unique width of experience and exposure that SA technologists have. Canadian companies struggle to understand that.

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BevBrad

Harry,

Thanks, that was interesting.

Has anyone read Ira Levin's "This perfect day", a good story.

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Harry

I have not read it, but I know the basic drift.....a world where all is controlled and decided by computer. There is no threat, but also no innovation or independent thought.

Our invention came about because:

1. We were concerned about a bunch of guys simultaneously running past an rf reader during a rock-burst in an SA mine...this requires an "anti-clash" protocol

2. We were approached at the same time by VW SA to look at tags to be read at high speed and high range with no battery on the tag ( it had to go through the paint shop)

3. We were involved in a project with a UK university around satellites and their interesting and weird comms requirements..relating to "which speaks first to start the conversation", the ground or the satellite.

4. The inventor had an interest in history and knew about heliographs for reflecting electromagnetic radiation ( light) during the Great Boer War. The same could be done with radio.

5. We had a team of superb rf engineers and another team of excellent chip designers with analog experience ( hard to come by in today's digital world)

To this you add a good dose of "'n Boer maak 'n plan" and some hard-headed SA-style "don't tell me it can't be done" and stir. However, the one thing we never had, was adequate money to cover the development of the right low cost chip and manufacturing technology....that we needed industry for.

This could never have happened in Ira Levin's fictictious world. In fact, I'm not sure it could have happened in relatively "straightjacketed" Canada.

Without identifying the individual, this very senior US Defense representative said to me in Pretoria, after a very convincing demo: "Harry, can you tell me why it is that we throw massive millions of dollars at this problem and our boys in the States cannot come up with this in response?"

I believe it is because one has to have the right problems under one roof. Few people on Earth get exposed to such widely ranging issues with as profound intensity and urgency as SA folks do.

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stevedb

Hey All

I see everyone here is rather jacked up in the RF field ,,but what is the industry like these days. Is there still money in it and are companies going for the technology?

Also is RF identification being used purely for stock control or asset monitoring?

That’s all for now…after midnight and very tired…..

:o

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Harry

Steve,

it is also used for vehicle tracking, as in special bridge passes and stuff like that.

Then there is the US defense folks who use it for logistics, but those are big expensive tags that communicate with satellites.

The big deal, of course , has always been container tracking and pallet tracking.

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stevedb

Hi All

Does anyone know if there is a requirement for RF engineers in Canada or the US?

Steve

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digin
Does anyone know if there is a requirement for RF engineers in Canada or the US?

Read my bit on focus areas above between Canada and the US...

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Marli
Hi All

Does anyone know if there is a requirement for RF engineers in Canada or the US?

Steve

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi Steve, I'm an RF engineer, currently looking to be employed as such. I've been looking for a job for a while now and what I can tell you is that it appears that Ottawa has the most jobs to offer. I really want a job in Vancouver though and so far I have only seen one for which I qualify. I think I've seen 2 or 3 in the past 3 months for people with lots of experience. Ontario seems to be the place for RF engineers though.. and perhaps Montreal.

I forgot to mention that the USA is a much better destination if you're looking to be employed in the RF/microwave field.

Edited by Marli

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johankok

Why not get a group togher to implement the technology. Add some software skills, and some targetted markets (I can help there). IBM and Sun is now looking at business solutions. If one provide the appropriate software and /or interfaces, then the market is available. The far east would be first takers as the silk route has a major hi-jaking problem and they love to adopt the lastest new technology. Outside of that there is a huge array of applications that is even easy to sell in SA. Some of them quite simple to implement.

In the end of the day, that might be easier, and more secure than to try and find a job. That would also provide some flexibility as to where you can/want to live.

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Raoulb
Hey All

Who can tell me how big RFID is in Canada. (Radio Frequency Identification) Active tagging, tracking and monitoring, Wireless solutions

Stephen

Just read this post and thought it would be interesting to reply to. I work for a massive business intelligence company, heading up the defense division. I was speaking to the chief for policy for rfid and uid in the canadian services and they have only recently started running pilot projects. They always seem to be lagging the rest of the world when it comes to innovative tehcnological ideas. The US Army is pushing these mandates very strongly and they need to be fully implemented in the coming years. The UK being ahead of any of the services when it comes to tagging equipment. Even though I have no technical background, this stuff is extremely fascinating. The US army has 18bn dollars worth of unaccounted assets, as well as having pallets in the middle of the desert with no way to know whats inside!!! They have done some great pilots with this stuff.

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Steve&Yolands
Posted (edited)

Hi All,

14 years on and a lot has changed I bet. So in the past 14 years we have moved to Australia and New Zealand but really want to come to Canada!! I have been around the block with RF / RFiD now (Active, Wi Fi, UHF, HF, NFC, Barcode + inlay technologies) and ICT, Industrial Automation, Building Automation systems, Electronic Security, Environmental and geo-technical systems, etc etc.

Any advice on who I could connect with on this group (or other), companies offering solutions / integration / systems / iOT - SaaS and need project managers / project engineers would really be great. I have connected with companies (hiring managers & talent managers) on LinkedIn but from my own experience I would very rarely look and candidates across the world unless they were introduced to me.

Thanks for any advice and recommendations,

Stephen

 

 

 

Resume of Stephen de Beer 2019.pdf

Edited by Steve&Yolands

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