RFID tags, like the Internet of Things, bring the digital and the real worlds together. These tiny devices can be almost as small as a grain of rice and allow electronic systems to passively track the location of the tag. While the first patent referring to the term “RFID” was filed in 1983, it’s only recently that these devices have become widespread. EZ Pass and other automated toll-payment devices use RFID tech to allow cars to move through toll plazas without stopping. It’s become increasingly common to have pets that might escape to the outside world tagged with RFID chips that can identify the animal even when a collar or physical tag has become lost. These tiny chips also appear in countless security badges and allow people through access points without keys or ID checks. One of the primary places where RFID tags have become popular is retail. From pallet- to item-level tracking, RFID tags allow retailers to know what they have in stock and where it’s located, as well as adding a layer of security since taking a tagged item out of a store can trigger an alarm.
Few innovations have so disrupted the music industry like the advent of digital music files, specifically the MP3. These compact files could fit easily on CDs and hard drives as data, allowing enterprising early adopters to cram more music on older storage media and opened the way for compact MP3 players. It also opened the way for widespread and unstoppable file sharing and music theft, via early services like Napster and Kazaa and later via torrenting systems. More above-board services that use MP3 technology include iTunes, direct online music sales, and current streaming options like Spotify and SoundCloud.
Within six months of selling, however, I had reinvested the proceeds from the home sale and brought total passive income for 2018 back up to an estimated $203,724. I'm not sure I would have sold the house without a clear plan for reinvesting the proceeds, since I'm bullish on the SF housing market long term. However, because I did have a plan, and the challenges of raising a newborn and dealing with rowdy tenants left me feeling a bit stretched, I decided to simplify and sell.
Consortia continue aggressive vertical and geographic expansion. Building on successful pilots and trials, consortia have expanded to verticals well beyond financial services and continue to bolster their ranks with geographically diverse members. Although there have been a number of high-profile members exiting consortia, successful trials and expanding member bases could bode well for the future of blockchain consortia, which are fundamentally tied to the quantity and quality of their respective members.
Before the rise of cloud computing, businesses were responsible for all aspects of their networking hardware and maintenance, regardless of how much they were using these resources at any given time. They were also without options when their servers were maxed out. Cloud computing companies like Amazon Web Services offered an alternative: rent storage space and processing power on their massive servers as needed. When clients use a provider’s servers, they’re charged. As soon as they stop, charges stop. This allowed companies of all sizes to access cost-effective computing and storage solutions and greatly lowered the cost of entry for tech startups. It’s proven so game-changing that even competitors like Netflix rely on AWS to keep their streaming services up and running. And for individuals as well, distributed cloud storage from services like Dropbox and Google Drive allow users to store files of all kinds and sizes on remote servers and access them at any time.
To explain the differences in the impact of certain kinds of technological innovations on a given industry, the concept of performance trajectories—the rate at which the performance of a product has improved, and is expected to improve, over time—can be helpful. Almost every industry has a critical performance trajectory. In mechanical excavators, the critical trajectory is the annual improvement in cubic yards of earth moved per minute. In photocopiers, an important performance trajectory is improvement in number of copies per minute. In disk drives, one crucial measure of performance is storage capacity, which has advanced 50% each year on average for a given size of drive.
Meanwhile, the centralized institutions that should be vulnerable to disruption, such as banks, are digging in. They are protected by existing regulations, which are ostensibly imposed to keep them honest but inadvertently constitute a compliance cost for startups. Those regulations, such as the burdensome reporting and capital requirements that the New York State Department of Financial Services’ “BitLicense” imposed on cryptocurrency remittance startups, become barriers to entry that protect incumbents.
Blockchain is still in its infancy. Before we see widespread adoption on the scale the technology is capable of, a lot needs to happen. We must have buy-in from government (which in the U.S. means working state-by-state on policies and legislation). The industry has to clear a labyrinth of legal and regulatory hurdles before blockchain can power better banking, identity, records, or anything else requiring official documentation that now runs on legacy government systems or even (still) on paper.
We estimate that, together, applications of the 12 technologies discussed in the report could have a potential economic impact between $14 trillion and $33 trillion a year in 2025. This estimate is neither predictive nor comprehensive. It is based on an in-depth analysis of key potential applications and the value they could create in a number of ways, including the consumer surplus that arises from better products, lower prices, a cleaner environment, and better health.