Understanding RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)

Understanding RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)

Susan A. Vowels (Washington College, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-845-1.ch103
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Abstract

RFID, also known as radio frequency identification, is a form of Auto ID (automatic identification). Auto ID is defined as “the identification of an object with minimal human interaction” (Puckett, 1998). Auto ID has been in existence for some time; in fact, the bar code, the most ubiquitous form of Auto ID, celebrated its 30th year in commercial use in 2004 (Albright, 2004). Barcodes identify items through the encoding of data in various sized bars using a variety of symbologies, or coding methodologies. The most familiar type of barcode is the UPC, or universal product code, which provides manufacturer and product identification. While barcodes have proven to be very useful, and indeed, have become an accepted part of product usage and identity, there are limitations with the technology. Barcode scanners must have line of sight in order to read barcode labels. Label information can be easily compromised by dirt, dust, or rips. Barcodes take up a considerable footprint on product labels. Even the newer barcode symbologies, such as 2D, or two-dimensional, which can store a significant amount of data in a very small space (“Two dimensional…,” 2005) remain problematic. RFID proponents argue that limitations of barcodes are overcome through the use of RFID labeling to identify objects.
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Introduction

RFID, also known as radio frequency identification, is a form of Auto ID (automatic identification). Auto ID is defined as “the identification of an object with minimal human interaction” (Puckett, 1998). Auto ID has been in existence for some time; in fact, the bar code, the most ubiquitous form of Auto ID, celebrated its 30th year in commercial use in 2004 (Albright, 2004). Barcodes identify items through the encoding of data in various sized bars using a variety of symbologies, or coding methodologies. The most familiar type of barcode is the UPC, or universal product code, which provides manufacturer and product identification. While barcodes have proven to be very useful, and indeed, have become an accepted part of product usage and identity, there are limitations with the technology. Barcode scanners must have line of sight in order to read barcode labels. Label information can be easily compromised by dirt, dust, or rips. Barcodes take up a considerable footprint on product labels. Even the newer barcode symbologies, such as 2D, or two-dimensional, which can store a significant amount of data in a very small space (“Two dimensional…,” 2005) remain problematic. RFID proponents argue that limitations of barcodes are overcome through the use of RFID labeling to identify objects.

Figure 1.

Barcode examples

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History Of Rfid

Jeremy Landt (2001) wrote a history of RFID published by AIM, The Association for Automatic Identification and Data Capture Technologies, explaining that in the 20th century, the invention of radar took advantage of the electromagnetic energy that some postulate to have been present at the creation of the universe. By broadcasting and analyzing the reflection of radio waves, radar can identify two important characteristics about an object, its position and its velocity. This application of radio waves was a precursor to the use of radio waves in radio frequency identification.

During the 1950s, transponders were developed and improved, becoming increasingly more sophisticated and allowing for long-range determination of the identification of aircraft (Landt, 2001). Through the decades of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, inventors, academicians, commercial enterprises, and governmental agencies explored a plethora of opportunities related to the use of early RFID devices, using radio transmissions, “short-range radio-telemetry,” microwave technology, and radar beams (Landt, 2001). Landt states that RFID was first used commercially in the 1960s by companies that developed security related devices called “electronic article surveillance (EAS) equipment.” Although EAS could only present the detection or absence of a tag, the tags were low cost and provided valuable deterrents to theft. EAS is still an important application of RFID today.

Work continued through the 1970s and in the 1980s, as companies began offering a variety of RFID related business solutions, primarily aimed at transportation, controlled access, and animal tracking applications (Landt, 2001). Of primary importance, in 1973 the United States government determined that there was no need for a national standard for electronic vehicle identification. This was serendipitous because it meant that individual firms, researchers, and others could have the freedom to develop new uses of RFID without being constrained by a governing body (Landt, 2001).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Community: A tool of collaborative learning based on the on-line interaction between students and teachers. The model, suggested by Brown and Campione in the early 1990s borrowing the paradigm of the research scientific communities, goes by participants’ knowledge sharing and use of metacognitive strategies of learning considerations. Teacher has a support function with his/her disciples, fostering the peer tutoring and the reciprocal teaching.

Organizational learning: A field of the knowledge studies in the theories on organizations that inquires into the ways and tools with which an organization learns and adjusts to the environment. Argyris and Schoen considered the fathers of the organizational learning, define it as a process according to which knowledge and experiences of each member in the organization are codified and stored as common background of the entire organization. The term does not stand for “learning organization” which, on the contrary, is related to the strategies to use in an organization, so that it can learn continuously and successfully.

Knowledge Management: All tools, software and procedures, to manage the knowledge in an organization or community. The term, introduced in 1986 by Karl M. Wiig, at first was related to technological aspects of knowledge filing, retrieval and spread, but later it included Human Resources training and management policy fostering knowledge sharing and spread within the organization. The knowledge management philosophy goes together with the values, loyalty, cooperation and sharing system, that is at the roots of business culture.

Community Of Practice: Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. You can interact face-to-face or by forum, e-mail, chat in a spontaneous and self-regulated way and members decide how often and regularly it is better to apply to themselves to that. Obviously it is possible to take part in several CoPs at the same time and that is why the structure and the substance of communities evolve dynamically. The term was coined by J. Lave &E. Wenger in the late 1980s.

Virtual Community: A social aggregation springing out of on-line interaction, on Internet, by forum or e-mail, of groups of people sharing a concern and usually having no face-to-face contacts. This kind of interaction simply aims at knowledge and opinions sharing, unlike CoPs where the forming of shared practices occurs. According to Rheingold (1993) the community exists when the public discussions last so long and with an emotive participation to create a net of personal relationships.

Computer-Mediated Communication: A particular form of interpersonal communication where participants interact at a distance by computer, sharing textual messages synchronously (chat) or asynchronously (forum or e-mail). To counterbalance the lack of nonverbal elements of communication and their metacommunicative content, graphic elements representing emotions or moods, called emoticons or smiley, are used. The most widespread ones are:-) to indicate happiness,:-(for sadness, ;-) for “I’m joking”. Other metacommunicative forms are the use of capital letters, that means speak loud or shout, and the strategic use of the punctuation marks such as dots or a series of question or exclamation marks (????; !!!!).

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