Introduction

Introduction

Katina Michael (University of Wollongong, Australia) and M.G. Michael (University of Wollongong, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-795-9.ch001
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Abstract

This study is concerned with the automatic identification (auto-ID) industry which first came to prominence in the early 1970s. Auto-ID belongs to that larger sector known as information technology (IT). As opposed to manual identification, auto-ID is the act of identifying a living or nonliving thing without direct human intervention. Of course, the process of auto-ID data capture and collection requires some degree of human intervention, but the very act of authenticating or verifying an entity can now be done automatically. An entity can possess a unique code indicating personal identification or a group code indicating conformity to a common set of characteristics. Some of the most prominent examples of auto-ID techniques that will be explored in this book include bar code, magnetic-stripe, integrated circuit (IC), biometric and radio-frequency identification (RFID). The devices in which these techniques are packaged include a variety of form factors such as labels and tags, card technologies, human feature recognition, and implants. Generally the devices are small in size, not larger than that of a standard credit card. There has been a visible trend towards miniaturization through the development of mini-cards and tiny RFID tags (some even as minute as pinheads).
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Auto-Id Technologies

This study is concerned with the automatic identification (auto-ID)automatic identification (auto-ID) industry which first came to prominence in the early 1970s. Auto-ID belongs to that larger sector known as information technology (IT). As opposed to manual identification, auto-ID is the act of identifying a living or nonliving thing without direct human intervention. Of course, the process of auto-ID data capture and collection requires some degree of human intervention, but the very act of authenticating or verifying an entity can now be done automatically. An entity can possess a unique code indicating personal identification or a group code indicating conformity to a common set of characteristics. Some of the most prominent examples of auto-ID techniques that will be explored in this book include bar code, magnetic-stripe, integrated circuit (IC)integrated circuit (IC)integrated circuit (IC), biometric and radio-frequency identification (RFID). The devices in which these techniques are packaged include a variety of form factors such as labels and tags, card technologies, human feature recognition, and implants. Generally the devices are small in size, not larger than that of a standard credit card. There has been a visible trend towards miniaturization through the development of mini-cards and tiny RFID tags (some even as minute as pinheads).

Auto-ID Applications

Traditionally auto-ID has been synonymous with bar code labels on supermarket store items, financial transaction cards (FTCs) used to withdraw money from automatic teller machines (ATMs)automatic teller machines (ATMs), and subscriber identity module (SIM)subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in mobile phones. Today auto-ID devices are being applied in very different ways to what they were originally intended. For instance, frequent air travelers can bypass immigration queues using their biometric trait, prisoners can serve their sentences from home by wearing electronic tags and animals can be identified by implanted transponders. While the nature of auto-ID is one that is innately compatible to mass market diffusion, it does also accommodate well for niche applications where for instance security is paramount and access is limited to only a few authorized persons. Auto-ID has also become an integral part of electronic commerce (EC)electronic commerce (EC)electronic commerce (EC) applications, particularly those related to e-government. Increasingly we are seeing bar code scanners and RFID readers integrated onto mobile devices.

The Significance of Auto-ID

Prior to the 1970s who could have envisaged that every packaged item sold on a supermarket shelf would be equipped with a bar code label. And that by the early 1990s the majority of the population in more developed countries (MDCs)more developed countries (MDCs) would be carrying a magnetic-stripe or smart card to conduct financial transactions, without having to visit a bank branch. And furthermore, by the turn of the twenty-first century that it would be enforceable by law to implant domesticated animals with a microchip. These examples not only indicate the pervasiveness of auto-ID but also how reliant the world has become upon the technology, including public and private enterprise. The impact of auto-ID is irreversible, an essential part of life. It is interwoven in a highly structured manner with the way we live and work and is a seamless part of our day-to-day routine activities. The technology is so widespread and diffused that it seems to possess an almost omnipresent quality.

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