The Auto-ID Trajectory - Abstract

Traditionally the approach used to analyse technological innovation focused on the application of the techno-economic paradigm with the production function as its foundation. This thesis explores the rise of the evolutionary paradigm as a more suitable conceptual approach to investigating complex innovations like automatic identification (auto-ID) devices. Collecting and analysing data for five auto-ID case studies, (bar codes, magnetic-stripe cards, smart cards, biometrics and RF/ID transponders), it became evident that a process of migration, integration and convergence is happening within the auto-ID technology system (TS). The evolution of auto-ID is characterised by a new cluster of innovations, primarily emerging through the recombination of existing knowledge. Using the systems of innovation (SI) framework this study explores the dynamics of auto-ID innovation, including organisational, institutional, economic, regulatory, social and technical dimensions. The results indicate that for a given auto-ID innovation to be successful there must be interaction between the various stakeholders within each dimension. The findings also suggest, that the popular idea that several technologies are superseded by one dominant technology in a given selection environment, does not hold true in the auto-ID industry. 

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The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Seven: Ten Cases in the Selection and Application of Auto-ID

The overall purpose of this chapter is to present the auto-ID selection environment by exploring ten embedded case studies. The cases will act to illustrate the pervasiveness of each auto-ID technology within vertical sectors which are synonymous with the technology’s take up. The focus will now shift from the technology provider as the central actor to innovation (as was highlighted in ch. 6) to the service provider stakeholder who adopts a particular technology on behalf of its members and end users. It will be shown that new commercial applications do act to drive incremental innovations which shape a technology’s long-term trajectory. The four levels of analysis that will be conducted can be seen in exhibit 7.1 below, with three examples to help the reader understand the format of the forthcoming micro-inquiry. This chapter dedicates equal space to each case and for the first time will show that coexistence between auto-ID technologies is not only possible but happening presently, and very likely to continue into the future.

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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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