Kevin Ashton (born 1968 in Birmingham, England) is a British technology pioneer who cofounded the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which created a global standard system for RFID and other sensors.
Ashton was as an assistant brand manager at Procter & Gamble in 1997 when he became interested in using RFID to help manage P&G's supply chain. This work led him to MIT, where he helped start an RFID research consortium called the Auto-ID Center with professors Sanjay Sarma and Sunny Siu and researcher David Brock. The center opened in 1999 as an industry sponsored research project with the goal of creating a global open standard system to put RFID everywhere. Ashton was the Center's Executive Director. Siu, then Sarma, acted as Research Director, later Chairman of Research. Under Ashton and Sarma's leadership, the number of sponsors grew to 103, and additional labs were funded at other major universities around the world. Once the EPC System was developed, MIT licensed it to not-for-profit standards body GS1 and the project reached a successful conclusion. The labs were renamed Auto-ID Labs and continue their research.
Ashton became a Vice-President at RFID company ThingMagic, and began work on a popular science book about RFID. In 2007 he joined cleantech company EnerNOC (NASDAQ:ENOC) while remaining on ThingMagic's Advisory Board. In addition to his role at EnerNOC, Ashton writes a regular column for RFID Journal magazine; wrote Forewords to "RFID: Privacy, Security & Applications" (Addison-Wesley, 2005) and "Global RFID: The Value of the EPCglobal Network for Supply Chain Management" (Springer, 2007); and speaks regularly on RFID, Innovation & Leadership to audiences around the world.