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  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology Jeffrey K. Brecht, Ph.D. Horticultural Sciences Department University of Florida Gainesville, FL
  • What is RFID?
    • RFID is a method of identifying unique items using radio waves. A reader communicates with a tag , which holds digital information (e.g., a serial number) in a microchip.
    • RFID is like a bar code reader, but the reading is done remotely.
      • RFID doesn’t require ‘line of sight’.
    A carton tag
  • How Does RFID Work?
    • The microchip, attached to an antenna, picks up signals from and sends signals to a reader.
    • Each tag contains a unique serial number, the Electronic Product Code (EPC).
    • The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to the reader.
    Antenna Readers
  • How Does RFID Work?
    • The reader converts the radio waves returned from the RFID tag into a form that can then be passed on to computers that can make use of it.
    • Once the EPC is retrieved from the tag, it can be associated with dynamic data such as from where an item originated or the date of its production.
  • What’s the Point of RFID?
    • Inventory Management
      • More accurate, immediate (i.e., ‘real time’) information about:
        • the location of items
        • the history of items
        • the number of items in the supply chain
    • Cost savings come from automating what is now a manual, not too accurate task.
  • http://www.franwell.com/ Real Time Inventory Visibility
  • Current Uses
    • Sunpass toll collection is an RFID system
    • British Airways uses RFID to track luggage
    • Livestock tracking (ear tags) in Australia and Europe
    • Wal Mart, Target, and the Dept. of Defense are requiring their suppliers to have RFID tags on all pallets and cases they deliver by 2005
  • Current Uses
    • RFID has been used in libraries for several years.
      • As a security solution
      • For inventory management
      • For self-checkout
      • For automated return systems.
    • The Eugene Public Library in Oregon has sorters and conveyer belt systems that deposit returned books into specified bins that are linked through an RFID number to specific sections of the library.
  • Future Examples
    • Retailers envision scanners placed on shelves to speed restocking, and installed at building exits to prevent theft.
    • Food producers predict faster and more targeted recalls of defective or unsafe products.
    • Hospitals imagine using RFID tags to help prevent medical errors by, for example, transmitting the correct medicine dosages to nurses.
  • How is RFID Being Implemented?
    • By EPCglobal, a joint venture between EAN International and the Uniform Code Council (UCC)
    • EPCglobal is leading the development of industry-driven standards for the Electronic Product Code (EPC) Network to support the use of RFID.
  • Why Do Your Clients Care About RFID?
    • Privacy Concerns – A Brave New World, 1984 (Big Brother), etc…
    • RFID systems enable tagged objects to speak to electronic readers over the course of a product's lifetime – all the way to the consumer’s home? Yikes!
    • Will it happen??
  • Privacy Concerns
    • RFID technology's primary use is for carton and pallet tracking – item-level tracking of consumer products isn't likely to happen for many years. $$$
    • A "kill" command is included in the EPC specifications, so the RFID tags will be permanently disabled at checkout.
  • Privacy Concerns
    • RFID signals can be read from only 10 to 15 feet away, maximum, and are reflected by metal.
    • Consider the costs:
      • Why would companies invest in the infrastructure needed to read RFID tags everywhere?
      • Their competitors could read the same tags.
  • Privacy Concerns
    • Read an opinion piece, “RFID SECURITY SCARES IGNORE FACTS”
    • http://www.itworld.com/nl/it_insights/12102003/
  • Are There any Health Risks Associated with RFID and Radio Waves?
    • No, RFID uses the low-end of the electromagnetic spectrum. The waves coming from readers are no more dangerous than the waves coming to your car radio.
    • Some RFID systems use microwave frequency.
  • Future Uses/Research
    • RFID doesn’t work around metal and water
    • Tracking metal products or those with high water content is problematic
      • Metal containers reflect radio waves
      • Produce, meat, fish, and dairy products have high water content and absorb radio waves
    • Research at the UF/IFAS RFID Lab (with Franwell) is addressing this issue
  • Future Uses/Research
    • Combining RFID tags with sensors
      • Temperature sensors
      • Biological sensors
    • The same tags used to track items moving through the supply chain may also alert staff if they are not stored at the right temperature, if meat has gone bad, or even if someone has injected a biological agent into food.
  • Thank You! Questions?