Radio Frequency Identification
RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is the new generation of wireless tracking technology that utilizes the radio wave transmission in communicating between the reader/interrogator and tags/transponder.
Radar technology was first used in the 1940's to identify enemy and friendly aircrafts in WWII. Technically this was the first use of RFID. In 1948, scientist and inventor Harry Stockman creates RFID and is credited with the invention.
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RFID Technology implementation has many advantages. The general advantages are:
RFID works by sending radio signals between a reader and a tag. The reader transmits a radio signal and when a tag comes within range, it receives the signal and sends feedback that enables the reader to identify it and receive other data that it contains.
Retail: RFID is used for item level tagging in retail stores. In addition to inventory control, this provides both protection against theft by customers (shoplifting) and employees ("shrinkage") by using electronic article surveillance (EAS), and a self checkout process for customers. Tags of different type can be physically removed with a special tool or deactivated electronically once items have been paid for. On leaving the shop customers have to pass near an RFID detector; if they have items with active RFID tags, an alarm sounds, both indicating an unpaid-for item, and identifying what it is.
Access Control: RFID tags are widely used in identification badges, replacing earlier magnetic stripe cards. These badges need only be held within a certain distance of the reader to authenticate the holder. Tags can also be placed on vehicles, which can be read at a distance, to allow entrance to controlled areas without having to stop the vehicle and present a card or enter an access code.
Promotion Tracking: To prevent retailers diverting products, manufacturers are exploring the use of RFID tags on promoted merchandise so that they can track exactly which product has sold through the supply chain at fully discounted prices.
Transportation & Logistics: Yard management, shipping and freight and distribution centers use RFID tracking. In the railroad industry, RFID tags mounted on locomotives and rolling stock identify the owner, identification number and type of equipment and its characteristics. This can be used with a database to identify the lading, origin, destination, etc. of the commodities being carried. In commercial aviation, RFID is used to support maintenance on commercial aircraft. RFID tags are used to identify baggage and cargo at several airports and airlines.
Healthcare: In healthcare, there is a need for increased visibility, efficiency, and gathering of data around relevant interactions. RFID tracking solutions are able to help healthcare facilities manage mobile medical equipment, improve patient workflow, monitor environmental conditions, and protect patients, staff and visitors from infection or other hazards. A physical RFID tag may be incorporated with browser-based software to increase its efficacy. This software allows for different groups or specific hospital staff, nurses, and patients to see real-time data relevant to each piece of tracked equipment or personnel. Real-time data is stored and archived to make use of historical reporting functionality and to prove compliance with various industry regulations. This combination of RFID real-time locating system hardware and software provides a powerful data collection tool for facilities seeking to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs.