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What Is RFID?
Some people have questioned why RFID Journal considers certain technologies to be radio frequency identification.
Sep 12, 2011—An article that we recently published referred to "RuBee RFID," which apparently upset some of our readers (see Pantex Nuclear Weapons Plant Adopts RuBee RFID to Track Tools, Chemicals). RuBee, they insist, is not radio frequency identification, and RFID Journal's effort to characterize "every wireless technology as RFID" is not helpful to anyone.
Of course, we don't consider all wireless technologies to be RFID. We don't report on Bluetooth, for instance. Our editorial position has always been that the term "RFID" covers a variety of systems and technologies that employ radio waves to identify objects remotely. I would add that the primary function of these systems is identification for the purpose of managing objects or conducting transactions.
Whether discussing RuBee, ultra-wideband (UWB), Wi-Fi or other RFID technologies, RFID Journal's goal is to help companies figure out how to use wireless tags to better track and manage their assets, finished inventory, people, raw materials, reusable containers, tools, work-in-process, vehicles and other elements of their business, which can not easily be tracked using any other technology. To that end, RFID Journal—as well as all RFID vendors, for that matter—faces two primary challenges: First, RFID is a brand-new kind of technology, and second, there are many different types of RFID that work in particular applications.
What do I mean when I say that RFID is a brand-new kind of technology? Well, when the first power saws were invented, they replaced handsaws, but people immediately understood what they were all about. The same holds true for landline and mobile phones. RFID is not replacing anything, really. Some call it a radio bar code, and that might be true in certain applications, but RFID enables far more business applications than bar codes could. Kevin Ashton, a co-founder of the Auto-ID Center, once said something to the effect that calling RFID a radio bar code is like calling a car a motorized horse (see Motley Fool Rule Breakers: Interview with RFID pioneer Kevin Ashton).
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