Let’s get it out of the way: it’s impossible to talk about 2021 without talking about how companies responded to the pandemic. It has presented challenges and upended numerous business models, and the RFID industry isn’t any different. But 2021 also saw some amazing technological developments, especially when it comes to our WAVE ID® technology, innovations in applications and form factors, and the continuing explosion of mobile, MFA and BLE technology.


Working from home during the pandemic has scattered employees, rapidly pushing credentialing to the edge and into non-traditional spaces. Companies have questions on how security will work in hybrid or remote settings, and IT departments are struggling with and working through what it means to verify a remote employee. They want to gain back some degree of control. As a trusted partner in in industries such as enterprise, healthcare and education, we’ve worked with companies to secure the edge, whether that’s in a remote office, work from home or mobile device, and that edge is now everywhere.


Mobile Technologies Leading the Way

Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) for mobile credentials has seen tremendous adoption and growth for edge and identity management authentication. Where an employee was traditionally issued a card in the office, the mobile device can now serve as the credential, allowing companies to grant, change or deny access in a safe and secure way. For example, our WAVE ID® Mobile Access Readers incorporate a Bluetooth reader for contactless mobile access. Credentials can be pushed directly to an employee’s phone.


New Authentication Technologies

This past year, we also saw a large spike in the number of cyber security attacks, which is pushing the need for more secure authentication technologies such as two-factor and multifactor authentication. This can be a traditional or mobile credential plus a password or even the added use of biometric such as a fingerprint. However, passwords are not always the most secure. Emerging trends like FIDO2 authentication standards use passwordless encryption on a device for universal two-factor authentication (2FA). We have been adding these technology compatibility to our WAVE ID® Plus readers to provide secure authentication from the enterprise to the edge. However, even as these technologies continue to evolve and be adopted by organizations, contactless is still gaining as a replacement for a keyboard or touchscreen.


Moving Beyond the Desktop

Not only are workers moving beyond the traditional enterprise, but the environments that they require simple and secure access is evolving too. As engineering continues to advance, readers are becoming smaller and more durable. They are moving beyond the desktop and printer to laptops throughout a hospital, tablets on kiosks and even government fleet vehicles. For example, the WAVE ID® Nano USB-C is a small and rugged reader that can be used virtually anywhere there is a USB-C port. We engineered and built it for challenging environments, and it can be used in non-traditional ways that people that a reader couldn’t be used. It’s not impossible to see future form factors where the reader can be integrated into an unexpected environment that is not only used to control access but also workflows and operations.


Managing Zero Trust Workflows

In 2021, we’ve seen authentication go beyond granting access to a device or software. Zero trust workflows tailor access based on a behavior or role within an organization. As companies—and data—no longer exist in isolation in a single building or data center, zero trust security focuses on providing security and authentication wherever the data, equipment, behavior or workflow needs to be accessed. Whether it’s on premise, in the cloud or on the move, the zero trust concept believes that everything must be verified when trying to connect to a system before granting access. Readers can be integrated or connected in new ways that allow for the presentation of a credential to authenticate not only the person but also what workflows or operations that person is given access to within their organization.


Leveraging this technology for mixed work secures information, protects against mistakes, allows for various ranges of logical security and allows for more efficient workflows. At rf IDEAS, we provide the reader technology that allows our value-add partner and OEMs to bring together security and efficient workflows across a range of industries and ecosystems. Whether it’s the need to adhere to a regulatory body or the need to reduce time in a workflow, we have the readers and partners that can help bring simple, seamless and secure authentication to your organization.


For instance, we’ve seen the healthcare industry adapt RFID technology in new ways. In one example, rf IDEAS worked with World Wide Technology (WWT) to develop an attendance tracking solution at a healthcare provider that logged staff’s screening questions before they entered for compliance requirements. It helped to track which staff were in the building and reinforce screening protocols. Other organizations are using it to reduce workflow touchpoints and reduce transmission vectors in healthcare settings.


Gearing for the Future

As we look towards the future and as authentication moves from the office to other types of environments, we will be keeping our focus on engineering that isn’t cumbersome and remains simple to use for the end-user. If it is too burdensome or comes off as too Big Brother, people won’t use it or will find a way around it. The goal is to continuously engineer products that seamlessly work with someone’s everyday routine. Investing in this technology makes your workforce more efficient and protected against potentially financially damaging events, whether it’s a process mistake, data breach or reputational risk. As a leader in identity access management, we have a responsibility to help our value-add partners and their customers solve their problems in a way that is transparent yet secure.


If you are looking to explore new technologies or solutions for secure access—from integrating with leading software vendors to curating out of the box solutions to adding value with embedded reader access—our team is here to help you secure the edge. 

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