From identifying allied planes during World War II to enabling beach goers to check in on Facebook without a computer or smartphone, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has stood the test of time.
Cheap, small and versatile RFID uses radio waves to identify and track any movable item. Chances are you’ve already encountered it on electronic toll highways, express pay pass systems and building access cards.
For the organizers of large-scale events, RFID technology is an all-in-one solution. RFID-enabled wristbands were used at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in California (90,000 three-day passes were sold) to improve security, eliminate counterfeits (the microchips can’t be copied) and reduce admission times.
Doctors are using RFID technology to save lives. The RF Assure Detection System at the University of North Carolina Hospitals can scan a surgical site and alert medical staff if a RFID tagged surgical item has been left in the body.
Now, RFID is giving way to the next phase of geolocation social media marketing initiatives. These interactive installations not only serve to increase brand visibility, but also give users a fun and interactive experience.
Runners of the New York Marathon were treated to video messages from loved ones when antennas picked up their RFID shoe tags. Pillars around the Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel can read guests’ RFID-enabled wristbands, allowing them to check in, take pictures and update their Facebook status from the beach, pool and dance floor. At the Amsterdam Motor Show, Renault used the same technology to allow attendees to check in and like various models by scanning their RFID-enabled card.
The future of RFID technology is indisputably bright. Apple was recently awarded a patent for a RFID tag reader in touchscreen devices – a good indicator that the next generation of products will be RFID-enabled. But before RFID technology can move completely into the mainstream, there are a lot of questions surrounding personal privacy and data security that need to be answered first. After all, you don’t want just anyone reading your tag.