Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) - a disruptive technology or just a fancy
kind of barcode?
We all know what barcodes are, donít we?
They are all around us and have become a part of everyday life. They are the means
by which our shopping is automatically logged and tallied at the supermarket
checkout, they are on parcels and packages we receive and on our holiday luggage as
it is checked in. If you work in any kind of manufacturing or logistics facility you
probably see or may use barcodes every day. On a personal level your medical records
will have barcodes and if you have a new style driving license or passport you will
already be bar-coded.
Barcodes are cheap, simple to use and have found uses far removed from their early
days in the automotive industry. Despite this, however, standard barcodes have their
problems. They are easily damaged and generally do not contain much information.
They are passive, read only, and once printed cannot change. There is a limit to how
small they can be made without becoming difficult to read and they canít be used on
many surfaces. There have been attempts to get around some of these problems and
itís true to say that some of the newer types of barcodes can address issues such as
damage or volume of information. However, a major limiting factor to the use of
barcodes is the need to have the barcode in view. Essentially, you canít read what
you canít see.
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