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RFID BASICS: Definitions and Answers

Many people have probably heard the term RFID or most likely watched some type of newscast regarding the ever so popular new technology surrounding Radio Frequency Identification. In fact, many companies and businesses are implementing different types of RFID devices into their work day; it can make your job easier and simpler. It’s just a matter of understanding the RFID basics.

RFID has been around for years; however, because the cost of implementing an RFID system was rather enormous, many businesses chose to wait around until the cost was more efficient. Basically, that time has come. And as a result, companies like Wal-Mart and even the government has mandated their vendors work with them on implementing an RFID system. It makes tracking of goods, supplies, and even shipments easier. It eliminates the guess work, theft, and even protects consumers regarding recalls and quality issues regarding items.

RFID is a generic term that represents any type of technology that uses radio waves to automatically identify objects. The RFID tag is basically a small microchip with an embedded antenna, this tag is placed on an item, and then the antenna transfers radio waves which contain information stored in the microchip, as a result, a corresponding reader will convert the radio waves into digital information, which is then sent to a computer.

In most instances, these readers are located in closed looped systems, which mean that the actual product or item never leaves the “readers” area; at all times the item is in the control of the reader. So for example, if you purchase a bar of soap at the store that has a RFID label, after you leave the actual store parking lot- most likely the reader will not be able to track the item anymore.

Some cities and school systems in Japan are incorporating readers onto street corners, the school children are given a school badge that contains a RFID device; as they walk home in the afternoon, the reader transfers the child’s where-a-bouts to the school and the parent’s. This has been tested for over a year and most parents in Japan find that having access to their children’s location at any given time gives them a feeling of security - knowing that their child is safe from harm.

RFID basics tells us that the opportunities for growth in this field are limitless, although, the thought of tracking school children may sound a little far fetched and perhaps even an invasion of personal privacy- it just goes to show you that the uses for these Radio Frequency Identification devices could help or halter life as we know it.