This chapter describes the history and development of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Key information on RFID such as the ratification of the RFID standards and important regulations on frequency usage is presented. As businesses move towards the convergence of information, RFID technology provides a step closer to the reality of connecting the real world and the digital world seamlessly. This is possible as RFID communication does not require the line of sight as barcodes do. Thus, is the continued existence of the barcodes technology under threat? Before RFID makes its way into the mainstream, there are teething issues to be sorted out. The immediate attention for a global uptake of RFID is the adoption of a frequency standard that is accepted internationally. This chapter provides an understanding of the RFID technology, its background and its origin.
History: The Development Of Rfid
Electromagnetic theory was developed in the 1800s. Michael Faraday discovered that light and radio waves are part of electromagnetic energy and James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic energy travel at the speed of light in transverse waves (Landt, 2001). The discovery led to consequential experiments. In 1896, Guglielmo Marconi successfully transmitted radio waves across the Atlantic (Landt, 2001). Marconi’s demonstration was followed by more innovations. In 1922, radar was developed. The transponder (or tag) and interrogator (or reader) were then bulky and heavy. Radar was extensively used by the Allies during World War II to identify friendly military aircraft. Radar was further developed into a commercial air traffic control system in the late 1950s following the invention of integrated circuits (IC), which greatly reduced the size of RFID components. The 1960s marked the start of RFID development as scientists and commercial businesses started to show interest in the technology. The first concept of RFID for commercial use was probably thought of by Mario Cardullo in 1969 when he worked with an IBM engineer on a car tracking system using barcodes for the railroad industry (Shepard, 2005).
Most RFID applications were identified in the 1970s. The use of RFID for EAS began in early 1970s (Bhuptani & Moradpour, 2005). EAS is a simple anti-theft measure for use in retail stores. It is the first and most widely used RFID application commercially (Landt, 2001). Further interest in the adoption of RFID extended to areas such as vehicle tracking, access control, animal tagging, and factory automation. The use of RFID cards for controlling access to office building by Westinghouse (Mullen & Moore, 2005) is an example of access control. Further development improved the reading speed and enabled a longer read range. The advanced RFID systems were utilised to identify railroad cars and track animals in the 1980s, and for electronic toll collection in the 1990s (Bhuptani & Moradpour, 2005).