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What Are the Risks Associated With RFID Systems?

Posted By RFID Journal, 10.25.2010
Please discuss some of the problems that can occur with the technology.

—Name withheld

Hmm. I'm not sure I understand the question.

If your query relates to health risks, there are few. Readers and active tags are low-power, and do not emit a great deal of RF energy. There have been studies showing that if a person is exposed to a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader at close range to the head, then there is some absorption of the energy by the eyes. To be safe, companies should thus have an interrogator stop emitting energy whenever tags are not present (an electronic eye can be used to indicate that the device should start emitting once again). Don't situate readers close to where people sit or stand for any length of time. And don't place reader antennas close to people's heads.

There might also be risks to other equipment, especially RF devices, in the area in which you are employing radio frequency identification. In hospitals, for instance, it is possible that RF energy from a passive RFID reader could cause a machine to malfunction. However, I have not heard from any end users that the technology had any major impact on their systems, other than older Wi-Fi devices that operate at 915 MHz.

If you are talking about business risks, they are the same as with any new technology project. Many IT projects—such as the deployment of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software or voice-over-IP—fail, and a poorly designed and executed RFID project could fail as well.

—Mark Roberti, Editor,
RFID Journal

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