Mangione, who played guitar and drums Saturday Night in Long Beach, Calif., has Grace Slick, former lead singer both for Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, producing her second CD. But I'm not writing this blog to critique her music style, or to tell you about this up and coming new artist.
I want to know if you're listening to consumers, most of whom say "excuse me" when asked about RFID.
Despite work by industry associations to educate the public, the majority of consumers don't have a clue about RFID technology. It will come back to bite the industry in the future.
What makes me so sure? While waiting for Mangione to take the stage, I struck-up a conversation with a few people in the audience. The topic: planting radio frequency identification tags under the skin of animals, specifically dogs. I can't honestly say how we got on the subject, but not one of the several people who said they paid a veterinarian to implant a RFID chip under the skin of their four-leg friend knew much about the technology. All said they would have the chip removed if they found health risks. Their comments struck a cord.
None had done research on the technology and knew little about how it works. I'm not suggesting there are related health risks. I am suggesting that consumers need education on the topic to prevent a future backlash. It is one thing to use RFID to track inventory through a company's supply chain, from manufacturing to store floor, and quite another to shove a chip under your pet's skin to bring them home to their owner if lost.
One woman with several pets, who had each inserted with a microchip, says the technology reunited her with a lost Maltese last year. A BusinessWeek article claims "there are more than 70,000 scanners in animal shelters and veterinary offices and, each month, more than 8,000 dogs and cats are reunited with their owners (rather than, in many cases, being euthanized) as a result of this technology."
Animal tagging has increased in popularity as a way to keep them safe, particularly pigs and sheep in the China and the Australasia regions. Research firm IDTechEx predicts the industry will sell 2.2 billion tags this year, up from 1.7 billion in 2007, and 1 billion in 2006.
While a small portion of tags are geared toward domestic pets, consumers should understand the technology they insert under the skin of their dogs and cats.
No doubt well-educated scientists and engineers understand RFID. (Okay, I'll step down from the soapbox and stop beating the drum.) But listen a little harder and a lot longer to the music, because consumers tell me they don't understand.