Radio frequency identification (RFID)
A small chip or tag that reads radio waves and is used to identify people or objects. The chip stores a serial number and or information linked to an object or person. The chip is attached to the antenna which allows the chip to transmit information regarding a person or object to the receiver which then reads and then converts the radio waves to a digital information that is then passed to other devices such as computers that eventually processes every bit of information for use. Both the chip and antenna are called RFID Transponder and it does not have to be in line of sight. RFIDs can be attached to or implanted in products, animals, or even human beings.
In 1935, during the second World War, Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, from Britain discovered how a radar could use radio waves to locate physical object. This application was known as Identify Friend or Foe (IFF Transponder). The British forces used this application where it detected incoming aircraft by sending out impulses of radio energy and detecting the echoes that came back. This system was later on adapted by the Germans, British, Japanese and Americans, all using radar to warn of approaching enemy aircraft.
In 1970s, The US government used RFID to track nuclear materials in transit and also around this time, the US Department of Agriculture partners with research lab to develop a new passive RFID system to track cows and other livestock, controlling outbreaks of animal diseases such as bird flu or mad cow diseases.
In 1990s, RFID transforms into a networking technology (tags like barcodes that are linked to an online database) used to track items in supply chain.
Diagram below illustrates how RFIDs work.
Figure 1: How RFIDs Work
Radio Frequency Identifications Today
A. In Product Manufacturers and Retailers
In the present day, RFID technology is commonly used in tracking products, which simply means that products can be scanned in mass quantities and tracked from manufacturer to retail and to end consumer. This technology is being used by many large retailers all around the world for example, Wal-Mart, Albertsons, Target, Tesco, and Metro – and by government organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense – all of which require suppliers to provide goods with RFID tags.
It is also found in credit cards, car & home keys, passports, clothing, packaged foods, everyday products, as indicated in the figure below.
Figure 2: RFIDs Today
Advantages of RFID chip in Product Manufacturing and Government Offices
One of the advantages of RFID is their ability to communicate with multiple tags/ chips at the same time, which makes it more convenient. In addition to this, they do not need to point directly at the code, as they read in radio waves. They are ...