July 12, 2010


In the spring of 2010 our youngest son participated in running the ING half marathon.  The event was held in Atlanta, Georgia one cool rainy Saturday morning.  If you have ever been a runner, you know that obtaining your “official” time can be a huge problem and you generally never know your  “split” times unless you do your own time-keeping.  Not with this race!  Each runner, and there were literally hundreds, was given an RFID ( Radio Frequency Identification) “loop” that was to be affixed to one shoe prior to the start of the race.  The official time for various milestones; i.e. ¼,  ½, ¾ and finish line was read and recorded automatically as the runners passed under a stationary overhead monitoring device; i.e. reader.  A passive tag was embedded in the “loop” that provided the reader with the following information

  • Runner’s name
  • Runner’s number
  • Location of the reader relative to the starting point
  • Elapsed time relative to each monitoring station and the finish line
  • Runner’s pace throughout the race

Absolutely NO guess work was involved.  There was never any controversy as to who won, who was second, who was 54th, who was last, etc. 

This is merely one example of of how RFID can be used to solve problems when tracking data is needed.  Now let us assume you work within a very very large warehouse and must track incoming pallets of merchandise on a daily basis.  Your customers are Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Confederated Brands, Home Depot and the Department of Defense.  It is imperative that accuracy be maintained every minute and the proper disposition of goods be made for all incoming containers.  Millions of dollars in merchandise and equipment must be accounted for and routed on an hourly basis.  With this being the case, RFID technology comes to the rescue.

Radio Frequently Identification has the flexibility and accuracy to track and archive thousands of bits of information and data on a continuous basis.  Unlike bar codes, RFID does NOT depend upon line of sight for proper interrogation of critical information contained by a tag or tags located on the components or the pallet containing the components.  This provides a tremendous advantage and significantly lessens the possibility of loss while improving the speed and efficiency of monitoring within the distribution process.  Hundreds of other uses for RFID can be stated but the most significant application is for tracking merchandise.  The word “significant” is used to imply a very quick return on investment (ROI) for the cost of the equipment, software and training of personnel.  I would say that these applications will come long before any doomsday or “mark-of-the-beast” considerations are realized.  The hard-nosed question—“How can we use this technology to improve efficiency and cut costs” will rule the day, especially in this economy.

I strongly recommend you take a look at the emerging and important technology.  You will probably find it used in many places already.

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