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RFID By Any Other Name

While RFID technology is evolving, the term remains a touchstone for people looking to use RFID systems to solve business problems.
By Mark Roberti
Third, devices that have a unique identification number and utilize radio waves to communicate that ID are part of the RFID ecosystem, and do not require a special name. RFID is engendering an explosion of low-cost wireless sensors, and some feel that adding an accelerometer or temperature sensor to an RFID transponder somehow makes the device no longer an RFID device. That's like saying that plugging a printer into your computer suddenly means it's no longer a computer since it now prints, or that adding a CD player to a car makes it no longer a car.

If you're tracking a shipment of pharmaceuticals that must be stored within a specific temperature range, then knowing a device's ID is as critical as knowing the temperature. Otherwise, you can't find the drugs that are outside the required temperature range.

There are some automatic-identification technologies, such as 2-D bar codes, infrared and ultrasound, that are not RFID. But we are a source of information about those technologies as well, because they work in much the same way that RFID does (ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation waves), and for the same purposes. Some solutions employ a combination of technologies, such as RFID and infrared. Our special report, "How to Choose the Right RFID System: A Step-by-Step Guide" includes a description of 2-D bar codes, infrared and ultrasound, and explains their strengths and weaknesses (see RFID Journal Offers Guide to Choosing the Right RFID System and How to Choose the Right RFID System).

As RFID technology evolves, the term "RFID" will continue to be a touchstone for everything encompassed by RFID systems. I believe the name RFID Journal will be as relevant 30 years after RFID goes mainstream, as PC Magazine is now, 30 years after its launch in 1982.

We're happy to stick with the name.

See also:
Why RFID Vendors and Users Speak Different Languages
In The Name of RFID


Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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