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AUTOMATIC DATA
Opinion
CAPTURE
RFID – truth
and fiction
Andy McBain, product manager, Motorola Enterprise Mobility business,
EMEA, considers the myths and realities of RFID and privacy.
CONTENTS
page 28-29
Electrifying E.ON
ith the price of RFID tags can be used to track people’s whereabouts.
page 30-31
Storing up even
W
coming down, more and However, this simply isn’t the case. Today,
more companies are individuals are not monitored from store to
investigating the benefits store, even if the stores have readers; the
this technology can bring. features available in the tags allow them
greater efficiency
However, with growing interest also comes to be disabled at checkout.
for Selfridges
scepticism and scaremongering. There
have been many mistaken assumptions What is and isn’t possible with RFID
and unsupported assertions around RFID, depends largely on the tags used and
specifically about its impact on privacy. ultimately the cost of the system. There are
For example, many consumers confuse the two types of RFID tags; passive and active.
RFID tags designed for commercial use An active tag is more expensive and
with GPS tags used for tracking people. contains a battery and a transmitter to send
As a result they have come to believe information to an RFID reader. Active tags
that RFID is simply the next stage of a are larger than passive tags but can
‘Big Brother’ environment and that the contain more data about the product and
technology, when embedded in products, are commonly used for high-value asset
tracking as they have read rates of up to
100 feet. Passive tags, however, are smaller
and don’t contain batteries. Instead, they
are powered by the radio signal of an RFID
reader and therefore the read range of the
tags is shorter – often less than 20 feet.
Human intervention not required
Active tags are generally used when the
tag needs to store information related to
products en route, such as during the
transportation of medical goods. The active
tag can use its battery power to provide
reads on a regular basis without being
activated by an RFID reader. Thus, the tags
can be used without human intervention
to monitor temperatures and ensure the
medication isn’t damaged during transport.
Andy McBain: The applications enabled
Conversely, the RFID tags currently used
by RFID are vast and, in some ways, in retail stores are generally passive tags,
only limited by a lack of creativity.
which are only read when the radio >>
26
MANUFACTURING
&LOGISTICSIT May 2009
www.logisticsit.com
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