With increased standards, lower system costs, greater solution reliability and higher adoption rates, RFID is poised for an explosive year, according to experts from Barcoding Inc., Baltimore, Md.

The following are Barcoding’s Top 5 predictions pertaining to RFID industry trends in 2016:

1. RAIN RFID. The RFID industry has coined a new name for passive, ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID—RAIN RFID. Promoted by the RAIN RFID Alliance, Cranberry Township, Pa., RAIN RFID is a wireless technology that connects billions of everyday items to the internet, enabling businesses and consumers to identify, locate, authenticate and engage each item. RAIN technology is based on a UHF RFID protocol standard developed by GS1 and ISO.

2. Low-energy Bluetooth tags. A growing number of industries are using low-energy Bluetooth tags in place of active/Wi-Fi RFID tags. These tags are said to be less expensive than active tags and are easy to deploy, as many users already rely on Bluetooth-enabled devices within their enterprises, like smartphones.

3. Hybrid RFID systems. Systems that utilize both active RFID (for tracking high-value, large items in real time) and RAIN RFID (for tracking large-volume, low-cost items) are becoming more prevalent, especially in the industrial and healthcare spaces. In many of these cases, low-energy Bluetooth tags will take the place of active tags.

4. Use of memory space. RFID tags now have the space to store information beyond a simple identifier. More enterprises are taking advantage of this, utilizing tags as a notepad or flash drive. Plus, there is no need to upload the information to a database in order to retrieve it.

5. Pre-printed tags. The technology exists to print and encode RFID labels on demand. But, instead of printing their own labels, many users are purchasing pre-printed/pre-encoded labels. This approach is not only cost effective, but also frees up personnel from monitoring and managing printers onsite.

“Although barcodes will remain relevant for years, RFID will continue to become more widely used, as companies are finding new, cost-justifiable applications,” says Tom O’Boyle, director of RFID. “However, the goal of deploying RFID remains the same—to improve data collection and gain visibility into that data in order to drive greater efficiency, accuracy and connectivity.”