The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Eight The Auto-ID Trajectory: Converging Disciplines

Having studied the past and present applications of manual and automatic identification technology it is now feasible to investigate the likely future of auto-ID. While this chapter can be considered predictive in nature, it is based on leading-edge research, most of which has not been cited collectively as has been done here, in the auto-ID trajectory context. As identification techniques and devices have evolved incrementally since the 1900s, the turn of the twenty-first century has witnessed a new breed of auto-ID innovations; traditional devices that have found uses in non-traditional applications, many of which can be considered radical in their novelty. By tracing these developments the possible trajectories can be determined shedding light on the short-to-medium term course of auto-ID over the next fifty years. It should be noted that the trend towards digital convergence, shown within the auto-ID industry itself in chapter seven, is also present at a macro level, across different disciplines. Thus this chapter will inexorably be linked to showing how auto-ID devices have been utilised in other fields of study, such as medicine, and the innovative applications that have been born from these newly-formed relationships. This is a significant contribution to auto-ID research; not only being able to understand the autonomous nature of auto-ID but also being able to comprehend where new research dollars are likely to be spent, granting one the ability to ponder on the implications of subsequent developments. In addition, the chapter will present a view of complementary and supplementary peripheral technologies that are essential parts of this trend toward technological convergence. Finally, the human metaphor will be used to explore the auto-ID paradigm, beginning with auto-ID devices that are carried, to those that are worn, to those that penetrate the skin, and to those that wish to do away with the flesh altogether.

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The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Ten: Conclusion

The principal conclusions from the findings given in chapter nine are threefold. First, that an evolutionary process of development is present in the auto-ID technology system (TS). Incremental steps either by way of technological recombinations or mutations have lead to revolutionary changes in the auto-ID industry- both at the device level and at the application level. The evolutionary process in the auto-ID TS does not imply a ‘survival of the fittest’ approach,[1] rather a model of coexistence where each particular auto-ID technique has a path which ultimately influences the success of the whole industry. The patterns of migration, integration and convergence can be considered either mutations or recombinations of existing auto-ID techniques for the creation of new auto-ID innovations. Second, that forecasting technological innovations is important in predicting future trends based on past and current events. Analysing the process of innovation between intervals of widespread diffusion of individual auto-ID technologies sheds light on the auto-ID trajectory. Third, that technology is autonomous by nature has been shown by the changes in uses of auto-ID; from non-living to living things, from government to commercial applications, and from external identification devices in the form of tags and badges to medical implants inserted under the skin.

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