RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a wireless technology that utilizes radio waves to seek out and track objects. RFIDs make use of the same concept as a bar code, but RFIDs are digital and work over longer distances. RFID technology is currently deployed for a wide range of uses in different industries.
An RFID system is comprised of a scanner and a chip interacting with each other via radio waves. An RFID chip is small and requires little power to work. That means a battery isn’t required to store and exchange data with a scanner, meaning the device containing the chip can be very small. This also makes RFID technology very affordable and easy to tag just about anything people want to track or identify.At present, RFID can be found in varying applications including in:
Tracking and securing assets
With RFIDs, users can quickly find the location of tagged assets anywhere within a building or area. Strategic areas within control point detection zones in a building allow a user to look into high traffic areas and find the tagged item. Assets that have been tagged moving through control points provide quick location data.
RFIDs are also used in securing assets. A majority of recent vehicle models come with an RFID reader at the steering area. A transponder is stored within the plastic housing around the key base. The reader will require a proper ID from the key to ensure the vehicle is being accessed by the correct key.
Active RFIDs can pair with motion sensors in case objects are moved without clearance or authorization. If that happens, an alarm will go off and security will be notified.
Tracking patientsHospitals make use of RFID-equipped bracelets to track patients while getting the latest updates on their medical history and patient records. RFID technology also plays a crucial role in mental healthcare facilities where medical doctors can track each patient’s activity. Hospitals make use of RFIDs to locate and keep track of the activities of newborns as well.
Tracking prison inmates
RFID systems track inmates in jails too. RFID technology is an effective means of keeping track of all inmates in the facility. Most jails in the United States have made full use of RFIDs to monitor inmate activity.
Huge volumes of data can bring plenty of problems in any organization’s document management system. With an RFID file tracking system, money and time can be saved by dramatically minimizing the time spent looking for a certain document and reducing the negative legal and financial impact associated with the loss or misplacement of these documents.
Tracking assets in government libraries
Public libraries utilize magnetic strips and barcodes for tracking assets. But RFIDs can make it a whole lot easier since multiple items can be scanned at the same time. As a result, lines can be minimized, facilitating an increasing number of customers through self-check-in and self-check-out. In turn, this will lead to a reduction of the library staff needed in circulation counters.
Tracking manufacturing partsRFID systems are widely used in manufacturing plants all over the world. They’re used to track parts, reduce product defects, and handle varying versions of the same item produced, among other things. RFID systems are effective in tracking the movement of parts, minimize production errors, and reduce the amount of time needed to find parts needed on the manufacturing line.
Transport payment systemsRFID systems are increasingly becoming a convenient medium for payments. One common use of RFID technology today is to allow drivers to make road toll payments without stopping the vehicle such as when you use your 407 transponder.
RFID systems are also used in the newest trains, busses, and subways, with access cards. Some cities have switched from magnetic stripe cards to cards embedded with RFID chips since they let people pass through transport access systems faster, thereby minimizing lines and crowds. The simplicity and durability of RFIDs guarantees long lasting use without much maintenance.
Debit/credit card payments
Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards come with RFID chips to help read data and carry wireless payments – when you tap your card, that’s RFID technology at work.
Securing building access
Perhaps the most common use for RFID technology is as electronic keys to only give certain individuals or employees access to buildings or areas within a specific building. The biggest upside with RFID technology is that it’s convenient to use: an office worker can simply hold up an RFID-embedded card for scanning instead of swiping a card or using a key to unlock the door. No contact is made between the reader and the card. That means less wear and tear, resulting in little to no maintenance of the cards or reader.
Since it’s a daunting task to go through each and every single cargo container coming into our ports each year, governments hope to minimize the smuggling of weapons and drugs into their countries and regions through the use of RFID seals on every container. If a container is pried open without any authorization, the broken seal broadcasts to a computer the next time the seal is scanned. A warning is then be transmitted to a government agency responsible for checking the container.
Next generation wireless sensors
Enhanced wireless sensors are the next stage in RFID systems. These can be combined with motion sensors, temperature recording instruments, and a host of other capabilities. The sensors possess small micro computers running a separate operating system with their own on-board sensors to communicate information with each other, allowing your phone to do all sorts of things it couldn’t before.
Detecting food pathogens
At present, the U.S. military is in the middle of funding a study on whether or not RFID technology can help identify pathogens present in food and other chemicals. The technology could be utilized to protect the public from food-borne sickness or biological terrorism.
There has been an exponential growth of RFID technology in the next several years. With hundreds of millions of RFIDs sold last year, market value in terms of hardware, systems, and services is presumed to grow more than ever. It’s estimated that the number of RFID chips produced in the next decade will be a thousand times more compared to the ones produced this year.
Applications for commercial use within the transport, logistics, processing, healthcare, supply chain, and access control industries will grow by leaps and bounds in the coming decade. With RFID technology constantly evolving, systems becoming more robust, and cheaper than ever, expect businesses to use the technology for solving a wide range of business challenges.