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Chang Mo Kang

RFID technology: The recording society

Speed is vital part in todays society. With increase in the volume of traffic, people are
expecting faster of everything. People expect transportation, procedures, protocols, and their
daily life to become faster and faster. Yet, with increase in speed, the conventional UPC bar code
could not catch up, and the technology left much to be desired in terms of precision and
usability. And as such, Radio Frequency Identification technology came to be.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology uses tags that can either emit signals
by themselves, or as a response from a reader. It uses electromagnetic transmission, specifically
radio, for the sake of keeping track of location and information of objects tagged with this
technology. RFID technology allows the tags to be read without needing the tag reader to
specifically point at the tag directly, unlike UPC bar codes. And depending on the types,
information within RFID tags could be modified as necessary. As of today, RFID technology is
in use in variety of industries and everyday life, with increase in use every year.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology was originally developed since 1970s,
but could not be mass produced for common usage due to high cost. Inductively coupled RFID
tag was the start of RFID technology. Inductively coupled RFID tags were made of metal coils,
antennae and glass, and was powered by magnetic field from the RFID tag reader. They were
used for the tracking of large items that were transported over long distance.
Next was Capacitively coupled RFID created by BiStatix to reduce cost. It was originally
intended to be used for more minor commodity and be disposable. However, due to its
unpopularity with the retailers, it was discarded with bankruptcy of BiStatix in 2001.
Finally, RFID technology developed current-day use RFID tags. Current RFID tags can
be categorized into two general categories: active and passive. Active types use internal batteries
to produce signals that the reader can read, while passive requires the reader for its energy
source. For active types of RFID tags, they require more hardware along with batteries, so they
are more costly than passive types, but have broader range of transmission, possibly reaching up
to 300 feet away. However, in case of passive RFID tags, while the tag cannot actively send out
signals and have short range of transmission, due to its simplicity and lack of size, it can be
placed on everything from everyday products to pets. And best of all, they are cheap, most
costing less than a quarter.
The main feature that puts RFID tag apart from UBC bar code is in its ability to change
the data depending on the type of the tag. If the tag is read-only, the data cannot be altered, but
for the read-and-write type, it is also possible to alter the data as necessary compared to UBC bar
code that could only hold the same data one printed on the label. As such, tracking of people and
objects became much easier. (Bonsor & Fenlon, 2007)
Today, there are many application of RFID tags. Public institutions can use RFID to
check if people are stealing public properties. In many Hawaii Public Libraries, there are RFID
readers at the entrance to check if there are any books being stolen. Companies use RFID chips
in their employee cards to verify access of the employee. Many stores and companies use RFID
to check forgery of their pass for service. For example, many ski resorts in major Northern
American and European mountain use RFID chips to tell apart forgery, and make the usage of its
service much easier. In Government use RFID chips in passports to check the authenticity of
passports and can view much more information of the holder compared to before. (Buck, 2014)
Large companies use RFID tags to check if anyone shoplifts or if the product is stolen. Some
examples include large companies like Walmart. In Walmart, there are RFID tags on their
products along with reader at the entrance/exit to check if there are any who shop lifts. Due to
being able to modify the information within the tag, companies can tell apart those that have
been bought or stolen.
Like stated above, RFID technology is becoming more widespread and brings much
convenience compared to conventional methods. However, RFID still raises many worries and
criticism. While forced tagging is considered illegal, to people worry about privacy infringement
due to the RFID tagging. (Bonsor & Fenlon, 2007) RFID chips inserted into the person will let
person be much lighter without having to carry different luggages for identification and possibly
even payments, people are afraid that hackers could also easily steal their personal information
or that they would become victims of identity theft. After RFID chips became mandatory in
passports, many have constantly raised concern on the possibility of the hackers reading or
copying the information on the chip. For this problem, they limited the range of RFID chip
transmission and also RFID shielded wallet. They make copying of the information of RFID chip
for non-authorized person virtually impossible. However, like security becomes better and better,
the methods of stealing by hackers and identity thieves also become much more developed, still
raising the question of security in the end. (Buck, 2014)
RFID brings convenience and also doubt in the matter of security and privacy. However,
it is undeniable fact that RFID technology market is growing larger and large. According to
Technavio, the leading global technology research and advisory company, Global RFID market
is projected to be about $15.84 billion by 2021. The global RFID markets have four segments:
RFID tags, Middleware, Passive RFID systems, Active RFID systems, with RFID tags being
most popular segment, generating 40% of the global market revenue. (Technavio, 2017)
RFID technology is a technology that brings both benefits and danger closer to its user
ever than before. In the future, RFID implementation in people could become the norm, and
possibly become the society where procedures are simplified with less work, or become the
world where Big Brother is watching like many feared. However, it is for certain that RFID
technology is already part of our daily life, and will become more intertwined with our society.

Buck, Claudia. "Microchips in Our Passports and Credit Cards: Are They Safe?" Sacbee. The
Sacramento Bee, 18 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
Kevin Bonsor & Wesley Fenlon "How RFID Works"., 5 November 2007.
24 April 2017. <
Technavio. "Global RFID Market Projected to Be Worth USD 15.84 Billion by 2021:
Technavio." Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 20 Apr. 2017. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Wheelwright, Geof. "Tech on the Slopes: How RFID Is Changing the Experience of Skiing and
Snowboarding." GeekWire. 14 Apr. 2017. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.