RFID is everywhere and still growing – UDig's IT Staffing Blog - UDig - Technology Staffing

RFID is everywhere and still growing

12 Jul

It’s amazing to me how few people are familiar with RFID technology and its everyday usage. RFID technology is everywhere. Companies and labs use them as access keys, Prius owners use them to start their cars, and retail giants like Wal-Mart have deployed them as inventory tracking devices. Drug manufacturers like Pfizer rely on chips to track pharmaceuticals. The tags are also about to get a lot more personal: Next-gen US passports and credit cards will contain RFIDs, and the medical industry currently uses RFID as an asset tracker to cut down on medical equipment and supply theft, an estimated $4.3B annual loss.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a fast-developing technology that uses radio waves for data collection and transfer. This technology can capture data efficiently and continuously without human intervention and enable automated decision-making processes. The tags work by broadcasting a few bits of information to specialized electronic readers. Most commercial RFID chips are passive emitters which means they have no onboard battery: They send a signal only when a reader powers them with a squirt of electrons. Once juiced, these chips broadcast their signal indiscriminately within a certain range, usually a few inches to a few feet. Active emitter chips with internal power can send signals hundreds of feet; these are used in the automatic toll-paying devices (like SmartTag and E-ZPass) that sit on car dashboards, pinging tollgates as autos whiz through.

The scary thing about RFID is that its current use could just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of its capability. Potential future uses include implantable tracking devices, which could benefit in tracking the elderly and small children. Medical uses include “swallowable” sensors that track the efficacy of medications and monitor internal organs, body temperature, etc.

According to multiple studies, the push for digital inventory tracking and personal ID systems mentioned above will expand the current annual market for RFIDs from about $3B to as much as $26B by 2016. What effects could RFID have on the recruiting industry? 

-Gordon Kelly, UDig Technical Account Manager

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