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Radio Frequency Identification; How the Latest Technology Could Change your Life

Updated on August 27, 2012

RFID Chip

This RFID chip is so small, it can easily be inserted into many different things- living and materialistic.
This RFID chip is so small, it can easily be inserted into many different things- living and materialistic.

RFID in Humans and Pets!

RFID is not only used for food, it can be placed in all types of products.

Even pets and humans can have the tiny device inserted, making their everyday location and information available with the appropriate technology.

A Peek at the Future, Life with RFID...

Imagine yourself in line at the grocery store, your items all neatly stacked up on the rolling black shaft, you hardly have time to drag out your cell phone before the cash register scans all of your products at once. Now, all you must do is run your phone along the machine scanner for payment. Within two minutes or less you have gathered your groceries and escaped the supermarket, ready to head home and eat your delicious purchases!

Back to reality, you're stuck waiting behind two mother's who have carts packed full of groceries, the checker looks tired and self-checkout yells at you too much- "An attendant has been notified to assist you..."

Racing through a grocery line in under five minutes sounds next to wonderful, and really isn’t all technology? At least at first, until it starts to take over the very duties us humans need to do in order to survive, pay bills, and feel needed.

RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is technology no bigger than a tiny grain of rice, a little microchip implanted into products that can track their identity, authenticity, and even quality.

Still largely in use is the barcode, which will someday be extinct in exchange for RFID- a system only beginning to infiltrate the market due to how costly it is to apply to products. Unlike a barcode, each “tag,” costs close to one dollar, multiply that by every product sold and you’re faced with an astronomical digit.

Still, some businesses couldn’t be more stocked on the future of RFID, for it promises many added benefits. Such as real-time tracking of products, on the shelves or in route to delivery, thus allowing retailors to instantly track what items they need and what items they don’t. This quick communication is forwarded to the manufacturer who is able to supply the proper materials before the shelves are emptied and costumers are left empty-handed, the store losing sales because they couldn’t keep up with product demand.

On the other hand, stores that tend to buy too much inventory lose a lot of money in waste and often have to cease production all together due to an over accumulation of un-purchased merchandise. RFID technology halts these issues instantly, allowing businesses a complete outlook at what they really need. It focuses on keeping inventory smaller and order-times more accurate, so that the product is always there the moment a customer needs it.

While potentially a powerful tool for businesses, here’s how RFID could affect those of us who don’t own the local Wendy’s…

No Goofing Off at Work

Fred works hard at his job, just as he has for the last twenty-five years. His hard work and dedication is hardly addressed in his measly salary, but Fred’s not complaining he can pay the bills, have a good time, and sneak in coffee breaks while out driving for the company he works for.

With the instatement of RFID, Fred can say bah-bye to his luxury coffee treats, thanks to something businesses consider on of the most money-saving motives of RFID.

Fred, and those who do similar pick up and delivery type jobs for a company, take up a lot of money in labor costs. These microchips are able to track products, from the time they are loaded onto trucks to their destination delivery, allowing companies a good idea of how long routes and tasks should take because every trip will be recorded.

While a barcode can only scan an object when it’s physically present, RFID chips are traceable down to their very location. If you are loading and driving these trucks, this means your secret coffee stops will be recorded and so will the time you spend loading the truck in the lot. Talk too long with a friend? Have a bathroom emergency that slips into 15 minutes of your morning? The boss will know about it, simply by tracking the products on your truck that day. While this saves companies time, money, and hassle, it takes away a lot of the elbowroom the employee has to be a human.

Customer Privacy is at Risk

Once RFID is activated, there is no way of turning it off. Therefore, even after you leave the store your groceries are literally radioactive, traceable down to the trunk of your car. Into your home they go, still waving their location in the sky.

While companies might be able to find out where there food is located after it goes home, at least it’s likely guaranteed good. Foods tagged with RFID technology have the ability to alert if it comes into contact with hazardous substances or spoils. Although spoilage is unlikely because RFID tags also ensure foods are shipped at the appropriate times.

The Rise of Unemployment

Companies that are hopping on the RFID bandwagon are doing so on the premise of saving money. When factories learned the dollar amount they could save on labor by uprooting their plants to China, they did so. The same will occur with RFID, a system that speeds up inventory, checkout, and many other time-consuming tasks that must be paid in the form of an hourly employee. Ultimately, this will allow companies to dramatically decrease the size of their team and hours given out each week. While putting extra cash flow into the owners’ and CEOs’ pockets, it will leave millions of others without work or food on the table.

Don’t run around in panic just yet, this is going to be a slow transition. One that is hopefully more focused on the negative economic effects on the people than they have been in the past when making decisions such as this. Most companies are still reluctant to switch because there are no regulated standards, causing a flood of uncoordinated devices on the market.

Also, investing in the barcode is a short distance in the past; an investment businesses were told would be their last. For a small corporation these expenses can be astronomical and even threaten to break them but unlike the worker, the businesses at least have a part in the decision of their fate.

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