Know how many bags get lost at airports? Last year, the number hit a staggering 34 million globally, according to numbers from international transport association IATA.
This cost the aviation industry $3.6 billion. One way to reduce the amount of mishandled luggage could be to switch from today’s widespread bar-code tagging system to more sensitive radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The IATA estimates that $200 million could be saved each year by such a swap at the world’s top 80 airports.
That is exactly what RFID manufacturers like Alien Technology are dreaming about. With updated chip technology announced Monday, the Morgan Hill, Calif.-based company is targeting the aviation and pharmaceutical industries. But it will take a while before we see the tags in chewing gum packages and soda cans.
Alien logo (Credit: Alien Technology)
Alien says its new H3 integrated circuit (a more advanced version of its H2) boasts heightened reader sensitivity and improved security features, making it possible for third parties to read the tag’s data, but not to change it. This could prove a blow to the counterfeit drug industry if the technology gets widely adopted. Currently, counterfeit drugs trade to the tune of $75 billion per year, according to the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C.
Alien, of course, hope its tags can prevent other types of counterfeit trade, as well. According to IACC estimates, 5 percent to 7 percent of the world trade is counterfeit, accounting to $600 billion.
The reader sensitivity of the H3 chip is up 25 percent from the H2, which is already 25 percent above other tags on the market, according to Alien. The H3 is expected to hit the market by July.