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End of Traditional Bar Code Scanners?

Updated on January 19, 2011

Barcodes are an old but still very useful invention. They were originally designed back in the early 1970s and were quickly brought into the main stream for a way of gathering product information tracking. This allowed great enhancements to inventories and the supply chain for many businesses. The barcode scanner can track things from the time they are made to the warehouse to the stocking shelves to hen they were purchased by the consumer.

In the modern day though, bar code scanning technology is severely limited. The process behind bar codes is very slow since they are liner and rely on line of sight technology which requires humans to intercede in much of the process. Also bar code scanners can only store so much information which limits them as well a new system needed to be developed.

The new technology that is currently replacing bar code scanners is called RDIF technology. It takes the form of a small chip and can be attached to any product. The RDIF chip uses radio wave which means that the process of getting the information from a RDIF chip does not to be done with direct human interaction. It can be done through the use of radio waves and can be tracked through wireless cell technology as well as GPS. Along with ease of use the chip is hard coded with the information that it contains further tamper proofing it compared to traditional barcodes. Most tags can be sent to and written to in a matter of seconds and multiple RDIF chips can be read at once.


As with any new technology that Is brought out into the market place it is important to understand the characteristics of RDIF technology compared to Bar code Scanners. First, RDIF technology combines the ability to read and write to RDIF technology where a traditional bar code scanner can only be written to once. Second the distance that the RDIF tag can be read from is always increasing and the high frequencies that are associated with the tags have longer ranges, currently the read distance is about 6 feet for the high frequency and the low frequency is about ½ a foot. Finally the active RDIF tags are powered by a internal battery to maintain the cost and maintenance of using it in such a small form. They also make passive RDIF readers that are normally read by the scanner once a signal reaches them.

Real World Applications

There are many great advantages to using the RDIF technology most of it in the product line. One way is if you are carrying fresh produce from point A to point B the product will move it way along the supply chain and can be monitored. If the product for best freshness is to be delivered to the store at 50 degrees F then if there is a time span between setup and delivery where that temperature goes up an alert can be sent to the company in case the product comes in not as promised. This can be set to many multiple alerts per device depending on the quality control checks that want to be isolated.

Is this the End of Traditional Bar Code Scanners?

The RDIF technology has the ability and is improving the supply chain management and increasing the efficiency of companies to deliver the product on time and as advertised. A number of large companies now require the use of RDIF technology for when it leaves the ware house and when it arrives at its destination. They use it on pallets, to allow the gathering of stock information and allow the retailer to know the time and dates and stocking information of any product.

RDIF technology is the wave of the future and is begin into show up on many new products in many chain stores. But, it still needs to be standardized and the flow of information needs to be coherent to anyone reading it. Next time you’re at the grocery store and you are looking to by some dish soap look on the back you will see a RDIF chip and see for yourself the advantages.


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  • sarovai profile image

    sarovai 8 years ago

    hi kadmiel, you are very fast catching the technology. very informative hub. thank u.