RFID Thoughts

Several years ago I attended an RFID conference in Las Vegas. It was the first time that I had been to one and was very excited to see how RFID was being deployed and how Walmart’s push for RFID several years earlier had impacted the implementation of this technology. During this two day conference several early adopters presented and explained how challenging a simple technology can be to implement. It was well understood by the early adopters that this was a growing technology and the challenges they faced today would soon be overcome. The 90% read rate of the tags as one presenter stated was due to quality control of the tags and some times it was a result of antenna placement. Even with all the challenges and incorrect cost estimates the benefits were obvious. They felt confident that the tags quality would increase and that with education the antenna placement problem could easily be overcome. Other problems such as the environmental impacts on RFID where the basic physics of how radio frequencies are retrieved from a tag would be a greater problem and much more skepticism was around that it was a solvable problem. Continue reading

Google Wallet.. Has NFC arrived and will Apple be too late?

Last week Google announced their mobile payment system that utilizes Near Field Communication (NFC). This is just one more functionality that Google is adding to the list of uses for NFC. To be honest this was the main driving force behind the development of NFC to begin with. NFC is a type of RFID that operates at a specified frequency (13.56Mhz) and offers two way communications. It has a very limited range which is why it is ideal for payment processing. Continue reading

RFID and Baggage Tracking

Today I learned a lesson that I hope never to learn again. When you have an idea that you believe in go for it!

Today I read on the Slashdot website that ZDNet did a review of the Qantas airlines RFID baggage tracking system (Q Bag Tag). The post was not a favorable review of this system but non the less I was disappointed in my lack of follow through on a previous idea. Several years ago while I was at the Las Vegas RFID conference I heard from the team that
implemented the baggage handling system for the Las Vegas airport system. The system was one of the first to come online for the major airports and was the only one to publicly talk about it. The system was deployed to be completely internal airport focused. The baggage tag they wrapped on the luggage handle included an embedded RFID tag. Once scanned it would be tracked through the system until it was loaded on the plane. None of this was advertised to the traveler. Continue reading