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Radio Frequency Identification

    What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

    In today’s rapidly growing technological world increasing need for a technology called RFID has taken place. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the technology that allows organizations to keep track of, or locate, objects via radio frequency technology. This is achieved by using RFID tags, which are designed to send and receive radio frequency signals with the use of electronic readers. These tags are presented in the form of chips or smart labels which contain very unique identifiers so that no two tags are identical.

There are three components which construct the RFID system:

  1. An antenna
  2. A decoder
  3. And a tag


    In order for the RFID tag to activate and send a signal, an antenna must first emit a radio signal for the tag to receive. Once the tag has received the signal and has sent it back to the antenna it can then process the information with a decoder. This form of identification will prove very beneficial for nearly endless reasons. Furthermore, RFID tags are replacing barcodes. RFID tags can be read at longer distances and don't require a direct line of sight. Also, one cannot add information to a barcode but the information within an RFID tag can always be altered.


    Primary uses

    The primary reason for using an RFID system is for information to be transmitted by a transportable device and be decoded by a receiver. Applications for RFID technology are almost infinite. There are many applications for retailers and department stores. RFID becomes very helpful when trying to control inventory management. RFID allows businesses to keep count of incoming and outgoing inventory without having to do a physical count as well as keep track of where your shipment is. It can also prove to be beneficial when trying to determine whether or not shelves are fully stocked, and prevent or track stolen merchandise. But the uses don't stop in the warehouse. Now scientists and biologists can use RFID technology to keep track of their specimen being studied whether it be elephants or sharks. RFID can even be used to keep track of your pet or even a person. Controversy has surrounded the debate as to whether or not people should be chipped. The argument is that if a child were to be kidnapped or lost the authorities would be able to locate them with a receiver, but some find it a safety hazard to insert an electronic chip into a human body because it could possible move around underneath the skin. To get an idea of how small they really are, an animal that is implanted with a chip is injected with a grain of rice sized device. Another popular use of RFID is bridge toll payment verification. With thousands of people crossing the Bay Bridge the use an automated payment system using RFID reduces traffic and commute time. Now credit cards can have a built RFID tag, known as a PayPass. This eliminates the time waiting for a signature and allows you to leave once you waive your card (if the transaction is under $25). The benefit here is the chip does not transmit your credit card number but rather creates a unique transaction code that is encrypted and would be completely useless to a thief.


    Issues facing RFID

    There are some downsides to RFID technology. For example, RFID tags used in stores could have an ID number liked to a personal credit card number. Another problem is RFID tags can be read from great distances using a high-gain antenna, which can lead to privacy issues because the tags cannot tell the difference between one reader or another. They could be used to keep tabs on people which could constitute invasion of privacy. RFID tags can also be a pain to remove. Some come in the form of paper like stickers on products. RFID systems are also fairly easy to jam if the right frequency is used and would have the greatest catastrophe in places that rely on RFID, like hospitals or the military.



    RFID technology has increased the productivity of businesses and assisted scientists in conducting surveys around the world. The opposing arguments contest the privacy issues and possibilities of RFID, but the some say the good outweighs the bad.





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