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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technique of automatically identifying a particular object or a person by keeping and distantly retrieving information from minute transponders, referred to as RFID tags. This method has been applied in various forms for over forty years. The tags contain a built in antenna which enables broadcast and reception of radio waves from an RFID transceiver. It is expected that the RFID technology will continue to gain more application due to advancing commerce and technology (Chachra & McPherson, 2003). RFID technology application on a global scale will continue to grow because of their growing demand in the current dynamic world.

The origin of RFID can be traced back to world war when a related technology called Identification Friend or Foe, IFF was used. The purpose of this system was to find out whether an arriving plane was an ally or an enemy by employing coded radar signals. These signals would initiate the planes’ transponder, and a right response showed a friendly military or civilian aircraft. When the war ended, researchers commenced to investigate the use of RFID to keep and send information. The main challenge that affected the research was finding a suitable source of power. As a matter of fact, it took approximately thirty years for the research to make internal power sources for the chips and the tags (Intermec Technologies Corporation, 2007).

All RFID tags fall under active or passive categories. The difference between the two is mainly in operation in that passive tags do not need a power source while active tags require a power source to perform. Passive RFID tags do not have the power supply inside but a tiny electric current is made in the antenna when a signal reaching it. The current gives adequate power to actuate the tag briefly. This takes place normally sufficiently to transmit simple information, for instance an identification number or the name of a product. Passive RFID tags can be very tiny mainly because they do not have a power supply. Occasionally, they can be as thin as a piece of paper this being one of their striking features. Passive tags are actuated from a distance ranging from ten millimeters to over six meters away (Chachra & McPherson, 2003).

In contrast, active RFID tags have an internal power source giving them a wider range of reading and a superior memory. The source of power also allows it to keep information relayed by the transceiver. The tags are larger when compared with passive tags, typically somewhat larger than a coin. They can also be read from several meters away and usually their battery life is approximately ten years. The merits of active tags over the passive ones incorporate precision, dependability, reliability and greater performance in difficult surroundings including damp or metallic environments.

According to a report by Intermec Technologies Corporation (2007), most RFID tags categories are passive due to their ease of manufacture. It is envisaged that ever decreasing costs of RFID and their rising demand will ultimately bring about their extensive usage on a worldwide scale. Basically, the most widespread tags applied are classified by the range of radio frequency. This follows that low frequency tags have 125 or 134.2 kHz, high frequency tags have about 13.56 MHz, UHF tags ranges from 868 to 956 MHz and finally microwave tags have approximately 2.45 GHz.

RFID systems are made up of various dedicated components including tags, readers, edge servers, middle ware and their software. The system enables data to be sent from the tag to the reader, which then prepares it for a specific application. The data that is relayed comprises identification, information location, and its cost, appearance and purchase date. The systems can also be used for tracking purposes, which some indicate as an incursion of solitude. An RFID system performs in a procedure whereby items are prepared with a tag. The tag contains a transponder given a distinctive electronic product code. The antenna going with it contains a transceiver and a decoder that produces an indication and actuates the tag. Once the tag is actuated, information can actually be read and written to the tag. Given that a reader is in range, it decrypts the data being relayed by the tag’s computer and sends it to a host computer where it is processed (DHS, 2008).

Application of RFID

Today, use of RFID chips has extended to various fields and the application continues to grow due to the unending demand. In MedicineRFID tags are appended to recommendation pill bottles for the visually afflicted. A unique reader allows perceptible information on the name, directions and warnings of the prescription to be read. In tracking of patients and personnel some hospitals use RFID tags in tracking system in its department of accident and emergency (Fisher, 2006).

Fisher (2006) observes that this system requires all patients, their visitors and the hospital staff getting into the hospital to be given a card entrenched with an RFID chip. The card is then detected read by sensors put on the ceiling. This sensor is able to record precisely when someone gets into and leaves the department by sending a signal to the host computer. The data is preserved in a computer for three weeks. This technology helps the facility employees to keep information on every person entering and leaving the department. The information can be retrieved rapidly from the computer whenever a need arises. For instance, if somebody is diagnosed with an infectious ailment a verification of all other persons with whom that patient has been in contact with can be without delay get treated (DHS, 2008).

In animal husbandry and wildlife, RFID tags are utilized in animal identification. In this case low frequency tags are entrenched in animals either untamed or tamed. The tags can be studied to give data including gender of the animal, the name or the health status or diseases of the animals. The tags also enable missing pets to be given back to their owners. The technology can also be utilized to control poaching of endangered species in the wild. This will enable the animal to be traced fast enough to avoid occurrence of any harm. Researchers verify that the technology is best suited when conduction experimental studies in the field. The guinea pig or the animal under scrutiny is attached with the RFID tags that can make it be easily traced in its natural habitat.

High frequency RFID tags are employed in tracking of items. This is applied in libraries to track library books. Some tracking companies use them in tracking lost properties, luggage or suitcases. The technology is also used in big stores in keeping warehouse inventory. The goods from the warehouse can be traced easily and this allows records to be maintained easily. Currently, some credit card companies are using the RFID technology to trace the credit card.      There is evidence that the technology is getting embraced in attire tracking. In clothing industry, some stores insert retail stock with RFID tags. The entrenched gadgets allow the workers to track personal inventory possessions by connecting a customers name and information on the credit card with the serial number in an item of clothing. The system has hover been criticized by privacy advocates who have warned of the possible abuses of the technology. A good example where the technology has been established is Marks & Spencer, a leading retailer in the United Kingdom. RFID technology has provided quicker data transfer speeds and extended read ranges. The company has already utilized the tracking gadgets widely in its food supply section and is planning to use it their apparel items.

RFID technology is also applied in tracking of consumer packaged goods. Particularly designed shelve that enables for instantaneous tracking of inventory levels is employed to come up with a smart shelves. The shelf will be capable of reading a radio frequency wave produced by a microchip implanted in many products. Large scale stores like Wal-Mart use RFID chips to track their goods, and remove the tags from the products once they are bought. RFID technology is used in geology or Vulcanology. Transceivers utilizing RFID technology sends seismic data to dedicated readers, to a great extent making data collection to be very easy (DHS, 2008).

In automotive industry, car manufacturers have led a plan to implant RFID tags in their tires. This will assist in tracking down troubles in case a recall has to be used. Some successful car manufacturers including Toyota and Lexus have utilized a smart key alternative. This innovation utilizes an active RFID tag to enable the user to open doors and roll down windows with the keys still in their pocket. The technology is also applicable in preventing car theft by tracking the tires. Tire manufacturer includes a transponder into the tire that keeps tire identification information related to the vehicle identification number. This enables a tracking company to locate the place where the car is located or travelling (Bacheldor, 2007).

In prisons, the RFID technology is also being utilized in tracking of human being. Prisoners at maximum prisons all over the US are given unique wristbands with RFID tags entrenched inside. These tags continually send the site of the prisoner to a remote computer. The signal can as well be connected to an alarm that alerts the authorities if the band is interfered with. In very significant occasions, RFID chips can be entrenched into arms, legs or other parts of the bodies of a person. For Security purposes, the chips can be fixed on some part of a body to contact the database and in some cases track a person who has been kidnapped.

In tracking currency, Tay (2007) concluded that the technology can track how and where the transaction is made. The thin RFID tags are embedded into the fibers of the notes allowing the currency to verify information about every business operation which it is carried out. The move is embraced as a method of curbing laundering of money, theft transactions and demands for bribery. Nevertheless, a lot of people dread that the innovation will get rid of the secrecy of using cash.Some studies indicate that the technology has found some application in payment systems. Wireless payment application has been developed and a wireless radio frequency system of payment has been utilized that employs the RFID system.  

In one of many applications of RFID chips in controlling human being, the technology can be used to control boarder access and to interdict suspects. This can be used for international travelers as well as restriction of entry in sensitive places. As a way of enlacing security, the technology is able to detect illegal entrants into a country and suspected terrorist. In this application, RFID comes in handy in identification with its high speed and effectiveness of the process and its ability to hamper forgery and interference with the traveling documents. With the appropriate employ of encoding information, an RFID chip can be made extremely hard to forge or change. To save time, RFID is the best technology to use at ant entry point as the traditional document verification is time consuming. Though the RFID chip does not relate the person with the biometrics, it is useful in ascertaining the origin of the form and comparing the form with a particular entry of a traveler (DHS, 2008).

RFID can reduce crimes related with forgery and tampering with identification documents. Encoding enables information to be encrypted in such a way that it is concealed from informal view. In current technologies, any effort to change or forge can be consistently detected by the system. Encoded information can be concealed in the pixels on a card, providing the similar assurance obtainable by encryption in an RFID chip. However the benefit against forgery given by the utilization of RFID chip is not a product of its application of radio. It is simply based on the fact that the data is in digital format and thus can be encoded (Garfinkel & Rosenberg, 2006).

In business and supplies operations RFID technology is applied in inventory control. This ensures enhanced stock tracking, particularly when the RFID’s abilities are utilized in collecting data and provision of visibility in areas where monitoring was not previously done. RFID technology can be applied by manufacturers, suppliers, logistics providers and retailers for inventory uses, and in cautiously designed systems, may share the same tags to decrease accomplishment expenses. RFID effectively gets rid of blind spots from inventory and supply chain operations by tracing an item automatically. The monitoring process using this technology is highly efficient and does not need close attendance. Security measures by installation of alarms and conveying of notifications can be set up using RFID to get rid of theft (Garfinkel & Rosenberg, 2006).

Summary

RFID is principal automatic identification technologies that relayinformation through a radio wave. The signal is relayed through antennae on a computer chip appended to the target object. The technology is therefore able to identify, place, and track the object. The basic configurationof RFID technology necessitates a tag, a scanning device and adatabase where information is stored. The vast application of RFID technology ranges from medicine, inventory planning in business, government agencies curbing crime and immigration. Other applications are in automotive and manufacturing industries, animals and wildlife and in tracking of business transactions.

Conclusion

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a leading and a highly anticipated technologies in the current world. Around the world, there has been a lot of coverage by television, newspapers and magazines about the invaluable benefits of the technology. Demand for the technology is increasing as the RFID are finding new applications in almost all areas worldwide. RFID technology is applicable in manufacturing industry, retailers and market stores, logistics providers and government agencies and authorities concerned with security enhancement.  The technology applies throughout the life of a product, from the time the raw materials are fed into the manufacturing process to the time when the product is finally consumed.

Recommendation

The vast application of the RFID technology leaves a lot to be expected from the manufacturers of the chips, the logistic providers and the consumers of the products.

It is very important for the user to have a clear understanding of how the technology works and understand the latest standards and observance environment related to use the technology. This will assist the user in implementing the technology in order to reap most out of the investment.

The manufacturers of the chips should provide adequate support documentation and the guidelines of using the products. It is also their responsibilities to work with the research organizations and the government regulations agencies to provide the best products in the market. Some applications of the technology on humans bring very dire consequences in terms of privacy and integrity of information. It is significant to note that, some of RFID’s application in medicine like evaluating the behavior of a person can be very beneficial; however more research is required as the results are still vague and unpredictable.

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