Radio Frequency Identification is an identification system used for retail and wholesale, security, veterinary, and military purposes. The RFID technology sector is growing rapidly as new uses for it are found.
RFID systems can be either active or passive.
You may be surprised to find that you have been using RFID technology for years without knowing it.
Some large companies, such as Wal-Mart and Microsoft, are mandating that their suppliers begin using RFID so that they can cut warehousing costs and other related expenses.
Active RFID devices are RF tags with an attached power supply. These tags emit a signal whether or not there is an antenna in the vicinity to receive the data.
Lojack is an example of active RFID. When the vehicle is reported stolen, the RF device is remotely activated by the Lojack computers, and it begins sending out a radio signal that is coded to the vehicle’s unique identification number. Authorities can then track the location of the signal and recover the vehicle.
Passive RFID devices are RF tags that do not have an attached power supply. The passive RF tags receive their power when it is emitted from active antennas in close proximity.
Examples of passive RF devices are Speedpass, pet microchips, and EAS tags. Warehouses will use passive RF to track box contents and item counts. Passive RF is cheaper and simpler to utilize than the Active RF systems.
“… the DoD will be an early adopter of innovative RFID technology that leverages the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and compatible RFID tags. Our policy will require suppliers to put passive RFID tags on lowest possible piece part/case/pallet packaging by January 2005.”
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
This slide courtesy of the Uniform Code Council, copyright 2003.
Believe it or not, there are people who believe that bar codes are the mark of the devil because of the way the numbering system looks (666). These people tend to believe that RFID is also evil. There are, however, some valid concerns about privacy:
It may be possible to scan consumers to find out what brand of clothing or shoes they wear, what credit cards they carry, what electronic devices they have, and so on.
If the US decides to implement anti-counterfeiting measures using RFID, it may be possible to scan a person to find out how much money they are carrying.