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The value of the Internet of Things (IoT) is communication – communicating about operations, assets, resources, and clients. As of 2019, there were an estimated 14.2 million “smart” electronic devices connected to the IoT, adding speed, accuracy, and security to business operations.

But what about all the other operational elements that aren’t quite so smart? Even when facilities and systems are IoT-connected, there are many elements, from paper to personnel, that don’t talk to the IoT. In the words of Cool Hand Luke,“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Businesses lose much of the potential advantage of connectivity and shared data.

RFID creates connectivity between the IoT

and “dumb devices.”

RFID is all about communication. Once information is added to an RFID tag, it starts communicating that information to other RFID-enabled devices, including IoT devices. For example, the University of Michigan is developing an RFID system for geriatric health monitoring. It will track the movements of pill dispensers, water glasses, canes, and other health-related items, reporting to the IoT when items are moved, used, or consumed. With this RFID-supplied data, the IoT monitors seniors’ activities and medications, updating caretakers while allowing seniors to retain their independent lifestyle.

It’s easy to see how RFID-IoT connectivity could have big benefits in other sectors. A few examples:

Facilities Management: Tracking workers’ movements via RFID personnel tags, IoT building systems can manage energy usage and boost sustainability.

Law Enforcement: RFID-tagged evidence is tracked through the forensic-investigation system, reporting status to the enforcement and judicial IoT databases.

Logistics: Oil filters, tires, and other maintenance items receive RFID tags prior to installation, then send usage data to vehicle key fobs which in turn relay the data via an app to the company’s fleet IoT.

Large-scale IoT is proving its value, but smart devices are expensive and it’s not practical to add intelligence to every aspect of business operations. RFID – already in use in many businesses – is an inexpensive communication bridge to reach the benefits of the IoT.