Mario Cardullo, RFID pioneer
By Your Edge Blog Team | May 03, 2023

It’s Shocking How Well This RFID Pioneer Predicted the Future

Dr. Mario Cardullo knew how valuable RFID would be in 2023, even before his passive RFID transponder was patented in 1973! Find out how much of his original business plan is now integral to your business plan.

If you’ve ever used an e-pass on a toll road to bypass the booth, you can thank Dr. Mario Cardullo. You can also thank him for how easy it has become to track heavy equipment and packages in real time, locate shoes in the storeroom of a retail store and rotate time-sensitive inventory, such as medications, among many other things. That’s because Dr. Cardullo created the radio frequency identification (RFID) schema that ultimately solidified the technology’s applicability in these use cases – and dozens more. In fact, he is revered by many as the “father” of RFID, and best known as the patent holder for the first modern passive RFID system.

But Dr. Cardullo wasn’t trying to make history when he started working on the first RFID encoder. Nor was he trying to get rich. He never made any money off the patent, and says the real payment comes from knowing what he has contributed to society.

“You don’t invent to make money,” he told our team when we spoke recently. “You do it to solve problems.”

Fortunately for us, he met an IBM engineer on a plane that had a problem he realized he could solve: how to transmit data from rail cars passing by to a receiver to report their status. After that day, Dr. Cardullo started to recognize many other problems that RFID could solve beyond the traditional (and almost exclusive) military applications it was known for at that time. It could be used to improve daily consumer experiences ranging from driving to banking to healthcare, as well as business reporting and accountability. Check out the original business plan Dr. Cardullo presented to investors in 1971 for his passive RFID system:

Mario Cardullo's original business plan for RFID

Some may say he bet big on RFID at a time when barcodes seemed to be the big hit. However, we believe the odds were always in his favor. We’ve yet to find another technology that competes with RFID – not even the barcode or more advanced vision systems. RFID is special. It’s simple, yet versatile enough to address complex issues. It is adaptable to many different environments (with a little engineering). And most of all, it’s reliable. That’s why, in the last few months, major retailers, shippers and manufacturers have announced plans to integrate RFID technology into their operations to “transform” business and, in turn, the world. They see the same potential for RFID that Dr. Cardullo did decades ago – the potential to solve problems. 

Whether Dr. Cardullo manifested this “future” we’re living in today through his persistent innovation or was just really tuned into what society needed, we’ll never know. What we do know is that our lives are a lot easier today – and will be even less stressful tomorrow – thanks to the expanding use of the RFID technology he took the time to refine and prove valuable. So, we owe a load of gratitude to Dr. Cardullo for trusting his instincts and showing us that RFID technology can be used beyond military applications. And if his latest project around nano RFID technology is any indication of what’s to come in the next 50 years, then we have every reason to smile. 

RFID Journal has the scoop:

MEET THE INFLUENCERS: First RFID Innovator Looks Ahead at a Microscopic Future

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