At the latest Open Science Cafe, Robert Garlinghouse (IE ’15) hosted and welcomed Mark Roberti, founder of RFID Journal, to speak about RFID technology and how it will change information technology and the way companies do business in the future. We got a chance to interact with RFID technology, and hear Raj Parekh (IE ’15) join Roberti in conversation.
What is RFID and the Internet of Things?
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. This technology uses an RFID tag to transfer data wirelessly. The RFID tag is basically a small chip with an antennae and functions like a bar-code. For example, Roberti talked about a building that installed RFID readers into tunnel walls during construction. Each reader could sense if the area around it was getting wet, and could send a out message wirelessly about the status of the structure.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a way for information to be relayed from a device over the internet to an end user. To connect the IoT concept to RFID technology and describe how these can be used in daily life, Roberti gave an example from a recent experience. After staying a hotel, he accidentally left his jacket in his room when he checked out. Roberti said that it would have been nice to have an RFID tag in his suitcase to tell him what was missing. That way, he wouldn’t have left his jacket behind.
History of the internet relating to RFID
Roberti gave a quick history of the internet and brought two themes to our attention:
- Computing is less centralized and data is more abundant.
- Computing devices are increasingly connected to each other.
These themes will continue through the future of technology and they tie directly into RFID technology. Roberti also said people are error-prone, inefficient and expensive. RFID can be used to do the work people do and be more accurate and inexpensive.
“We need computers to be able to capture information about the world without humans doing the work,” Roberti said.
Future of RFID
Parekh asked Roberti what he is most excited about for the future of RFID. Roberti said he is most excited about the human applications of RFID. For example, RFID technology could be used to stop food-borne illness. If a food item was recalled because it was making people sick, this technology could be used to find the source of the illness quickly. It could also prevent food-borne illness from even happening if an RFID chip could identify any potential bacteria on the food before it is sent out to stores.
Roberti also explained the potential for RFID technology in households. Control the light switches in your home with your phone, attach an RFID tag to your keys so you can find them more easily, and more.
“In 30 years, there will be an RFID tag in every room,” Roberti said.