Is radio frequency identification a viable alternative?
By “punch card,” I assume you mean the system that many companies use to determine when employees arrive for work and leave at the end of the day. If so, then yes, RFID can be used for this purpose.
ADR Software, for instance, has developed an RFID application that is being utilized at construction sites throughout the United States (see At Construction Sites, RFID Tracks Arrivals, Departures). The solution employs passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags. Workers pass through a portal on their way into a job site, and again when they leave.
Numerous companies have used RFID in a similar fashion. Often, the goal is simply to know who is in a facility at any given time, in order to be able to determine that everyone got out in the event of an emergency. You could also use passive high-frequency (HF) technology, but this would require that personnel present a badge to an RFID reader. People often forget to do so—but workers are far more likely to remember if getting paid depends on it.M
Another option would be to utilize Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled mobile phones. Phones with NFC readers can emulate tags, so a worker could wave his or her phone over an NFC interrogator to check in and out. Of course, not every employee would have an NFC phone at present, but that will likely change over time.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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