That’s a tough question to answer. Radio frequency identification is already being used in ways no one ever imagined. For instance, I recently posted a blog about a video showing an RFID reader embedded in a person’s prosthetic hand (see The Feel-Good RFID Video of the Year). Here are a few other innovative applications of the technology:
At a performance of Carmen at London’s O2 arena, singers were fitted with RFID tags, while a sound-locating system projected their voices to the 17,000 visitors in attendance (see RFID Helps Focus Sound at Opera Productions).
To prevent the medieval stone walls surrounding the Tower of London from degrading, the Historic Royal Palaces is monitoring the environment with Wi-Fi temperature, humidity and light sensors. The real-time data lets the organization adjust dehumidifiers, heaters or coolers, in order to respond to changing conditions (see RFID Watches Over the Tower of London and Its Artwork).
Granite State Metal Works, a New Hampshire art gallery and studio, provides potential customers with RFID-enabled PDAs, so that they can learn about the tagged artwork they may be interested in purchasing without having to talk with a salesperson (see RFID for the Art Shy).
Alco Water Service, a water utility that maintains unmanned pump stations throughout Salinas, Calif., employs RFID to track personnel and equipment, in order to gain better visibility into the use of its stations for operational efficiency, and to comply with the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. The system ensures that only authorized workers can enter the pump stations (see California Water Utility Uses RFID to Reduce Terrorism Risk).
In the future, we will likely see an explosion of innovative ways in which RFID will be used, because as the technology matures and becomes less expensive, companies and individuals will be able to apply it in new ways. I would also say that RFID will likely begin to disappear from view—that is, instead of a tag or label being attached to something, the technology will be embedded inside an item. Your coffee maker might have a reader to detect the type of coffee packet in the machine and adjust brew settings accordingly. And your refrigerator might have an embedded interrogator to provide a list of what’s inside and alert you to any items nearing their expiry dates.
There are so many things RFID can do, and I have no doubt that creative people will come up with applications none of us are even thinking of. That’s what makes covering this industry so exciting for me.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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