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Microsoft Joins Online Productivity Battle With Office Live Workspaces

CMP Information Week
InformationWeek Daily - Tuesday, Oct 2, 2007

Editor's Note

The Business Case For An Internet Refrigerator

Internet refrigerators were a joke a few years ago, but RFID startup Blue Vector Systems says that it's finding real customers for them. The concept is similar to the vision of household appliances that automatically reorder groceries, only aimed at enterprise supply chains instead of home kitchens.

In addition to RFID, the refrigerator contains temperature and door sensors, plus a small box that Blue Vector calls an Edge Manager and which houses its core technology. Using input from the reader and the sensors, the box inventories the refrigerator's contents automatically. It ensures that everything is kept fresh by sounding alarms and generating alerts when the door is open or refrigerated items get too hot or too old. The box also can be hooked up to a display that tells people opening the door which items are closest to their expiration date.

The system is based on active (battery-powered) tags that cost about $10 each, which means it's only really cost-effective for monitoring very high-value items. The only customers so far are in the medical industry, where it's used to keep track of clotting agents, blood, and other medical supplies priced at upwards of $200 per dose. It's sold as a service through ASD Healthcare, a division of drug distributor AmerisourceBergen, which has installed the system in more than 50 hospitals and clinics.

Blue Vector has competitors, and the big question for all of them is whether item-level tagging will spread beyond very high-value products. RFID adoption has been slower than most in the industry predicted, with much of it driven by regulatory or supplier mandates. The refrigerators are an exception: They sold based on their potential to lower costs and improve reliability. But is there a place for similar technology elsewhere?

Read the rest of my blog post and leave a comment.

Andy Dornan
[email protected]

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The Business Case For An Internet Refrigerator
Internet refrigerators were a joke a few years ago, but RFID startup Blue Vector Systems says that it's finding real customers for them. The concept is similar to the vision of household appliances that automatically reorder groceries, only aimed at enterprise supply chains instead of home kitchens.

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