I think you’re familiar with RFID technology by now but in case the hype didn’t get to you, RFID is an abbreviation for Radio Frequency IDentification. It works through radio waves and electromagnetic fields to capture and transmit data stored on RFID tags. What’s compelling about RFID tags is that they can be read from a distance of 10 meters away and to top that, the reader doesn’t require a direct line of sight in order to read the tags.

RFID tags come in different kinds, forms and sizes. There are the active RFID tags which have their own power source enabling the transmission of data from the RFID tags, whereas passive RFID tags function through the energy absorbed by the reader that emits signals.

1.The RFID was invented by Harry Stockman (who is said to be a soviet spy) in the 1940’s for espionage purposes back in the World War 2 in an attempt to detect friendly or enemy’s aircrafts. It has gained popularity in the 1970’s.

  1. The Vatican has been using RFID to keep track of more than 2 million ancient manuscripts and books including the oldest Bible in the Vatican Library  since more than a decade ago.
  2. Walmart started tagging their products with RFID tags as early as 2003 to prevent shoplifting and simplify stock and inventory management . Today, Bon-Ton, Walmart, Target, Sears, Saks 5th Avenue, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Hudson’s Bay, and even Amazon use the tags in their products.

4. RFID was used at events since 2004.In 2004, SXSW was the first to adopt RFID wristbands to manage the audience and reduce counterfeit. Then became mainstream to use wristbands in festivals. Next time you plan to go to Disneyworld, you will be using such wristbands to open your hotel room, pay for food, and receive pictures of you roaming around Disneyworld.

  1. In 2007, McDonald’s in Korea became the first  restaurant to offer an RFID enabled payment system VIA flip phones.
  2. The smallest RFID tag is manufactured by Hitachi and can be attached to a bee. It is 0.1 inches square. Since bees pollinate most of our food, scientists wanted to track bees to know which plants they rely on most for survival. Such tags help scientists learn more about animal’s habits and environments. Today, a very small form of the RFID device is injected into animals to track them should they ever run away or get stolen. It helps in reuniting pet owners with their lost pets and save lives.
  3. In some areas of the UK, some towns have adopted RFID to track the amount of waste each household throws out each week. The tags are in the garbage, and are called “bin bugs”.
  4. The FDA has approved the use of RFID to  track blood.

9. RFID is used in automotive industry where each part is tagged with an RFID tag to insure a smooth assembly process, improve monitoring quality and assurance.

  1. A company called Nutrismart has created edible RFID tags. The idea is to let people see exact nutritional numbers of what they eat. Literally putting data into the food you eat.

11. RFID is invading space as well. NASA is currently working on an RFID program to make sure that everything astronauts need in space is with them.

  1. Riding on the subway in New York City will be reliant on RFID technology. The New York MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority), plans to phase out their current MTA cards that you must swipe at turnstiles in the coming years, and replace them with RFID enabled cards. Their projected goal to start using smartcards in 2019.
  1. At the Milanese Ar Museum , RFID technology is used to enhance the experience of museum goers.

14. RFID is being used as an attendance detector. Schools in and around Cincinnati have  adopted RFID to make sure kids are getting to and from school. Kids have to check in and out to register their attendance.

  1. Even the US Army uses RFID. From tracking parachutes to securing locations, America’s bravest rely on RFID to keep everything organized.
  2. There is an RFID chip in your passport. Within the pages of your passport lies an RFID chip with all your  information which can be used to track your passport if it’s lost or stolen.
  3. Tracking food. About 12% of perishable foods are lost each year during shipping. Which costs a substantial amount of money. RFID chips can help fight this loss by tracking each and every product.

18. RFID saves lives. It validated the origin of medicine, fighting the crime of counterfeit medicine.

  1. No more waiting in lines as RFID chips can be used for easy check out at libraries and shops.
  2. When you want to have a cone of ice cream, you wouldn’t have to bother saying which flavors you like. RFID could directly display which flavors you would like to have.
  3. The luggage in airports are easily tracked using RFID tags.

22. RFID is used to track products. Producers use RFID devices to track their products from the time it’s made to the time it’s purchased.

23. RFID is used to track people as well. Many people are turning to RFID devices to secure Alzheimer’s patients by inserting an RFID tag into the patient’s arm. Should the patient become lost and disoriented, an easy scan reveals their address and any emergency medication or treatments they may need access to in the event of an emergency. This is a great way for many people to keep their parents safe.

24. RFID technology has impacted and ultimately improved the healthcare industry in many ways over the last several years. In one specific case, a partnership between Xecan and ThingMagic has provided a communication and tracking system for hospitals. This RFID “smart clinic” tracks patient location and wait times, ultimately allowing the clinic to operate more efficiently and increase patient satisfaction.

So, what do you think about these RFID crazy facts?   Let us know if you know more crazy RFID applications, we’d love to hear from you.


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