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Radio Frequency Identification device (RFID)

Item tracking’s advantages and consumer tracking a major concern.

1- Introduction

Radio Frequency identification device (RFID) is the technology that can identify objects
without coming into physical contact with them. RFID system works on the bases of
three main components RFID tag, reader device and the IT system that service as the
linkage between the reader and the tag. Its ability to identify objects without line of sight,
perform multiple reads at the same time, asserts tracking, retrieve or store added
information to the tag, assembling configurable parts of products under production etc are
features that supersede it form the present technologies. RFID technology has
significantly proven itself to improve the systems by making them faster and reliable. It
has facilitated businesses to identify problem areas, reduce labor cost, time efficiency,
real data collection, take timely decisions and also make large investments. All these
factors play an essential role to extend the businesses globally. It may provide some
similar services as bar code but certainly making system more simple and efficient.
Considering all the features this technology offers it certainly has the potential to be a
success. Despite the fact that RFID is beneficial it is the issues related to it that
undermine its success and growth (Gaukler & Seifert 2007).

This report initially introduces RFID application and the outcomes. Further it focuses on
a benefit and a drawback that undermines its growth. Lastly concluding the previously
presented details and presenting own understanding a vision about the RFID.

2- RFID system assists in item tracking.

The most efficient contribution of RFID is tracking of goods. Many companies use it to
track there asserts and valuables being transferred from one place to another. The most
viable example is the shipping companies that face difficulty to track there containers on
move around the world. RFID not only assists to track the containers but also stores its
log history. This precise communication acts as key to keep true accounts as well as
cautious alerts to handle containers with care carrying any dangerous goods e.g.
chemicals (Michael & Mc Cathie, 2005).

Another possibility that RFID offers is Item level tracking. The smart shelves solution
works with the help of inbuilt RFID system that constantly monitors the stock on shelves.
Sending automated order before the shelf runs out of stock. This makes systems
uninterrupted. The wal-mart uses automated item level tracking system, when the product
on shelf reaches to a low number of stock holdings a computer generated order would be
sent to the relevant supplier. This omits the ‘out of stock’ situations and keeps the
systems operating uninterrupted (Michael & Mc Cathie, 2005).

RFID tracking system facilitates warehouses in keeping a broader vision over the whole
system that in turn makes system fast. It assists to manage and record all the goods that
are available in the stocks. Since RFID is capable to identify goods from a reasonable

distance without coming in to physical contact with them this enables to verify the loaded
trucks at the gate of the warehouse. Also identification at the entrance of the warehouse
assists in guiding trucks to the right drop of points avoiding confusions and extra labor.
Procter and Gamble verifies that the implementation of RFID technology has proven to
bring about the real time situations at work and has also cut down on more then 15 to 20
trucks waiting for loading and unloading (Michael & Mc Cathie, 2005).

It is implicit that RFID has a number of advantages that can play a vital role for many
businesses to expand globally. Still so far it is majorly used in tracking goods this is
because of the unresolved drawbacks associated with this technology. Though the system
is designed to perform at its best, the tag remains active even after the item is purchased
and is readable that allows its bearer to be located. This is a major human privacy
concern due to which it is still not very much accepted in fields where human traceability
is possible.

3- Consumer tracking is the problematic issue.

RFID enabled packing along with the smart shelves allows customers surveillance. Two
instances one in USA and one in UK became the cause of public boycott of both the
companies. ‘Procter & Gamble (P&G) lipstick, when taken from the shelf, activated a
video camera whose feed was watched by P&G representatives interested in how
consumers interacted with their product. In the latter case, picking up a tagged Gillette
razor activated a hidden camera which took a picture of the customer’s face. Later, the
same package activated a camera by the store’s exit. The pictures were then compared by
security guards; the store’s manager later admitted that they subsequently turned over
pictures of suspected shoplifters to police.’ (Lockton & Richard 2005, p.223).

Surveillance through hidden cameras is not the only concern but the consumer tracking
the bigger problem that can be a cause to indignation of consumers. The presence of
RFID readers at the exit points may only be installed for anti-theft measures, but this
means that every active tag carried by an individual would allow the readers to determine
his location. RFID tags attached or woven into wearable items can be read every time the
person exits the shop wearing anything that bears the active tag. Hence his activities can
be very well calculated by the people behind the reader system (Lockton & Richard 2005,

Another potential scenario is collection of data that would interest information hungry
marketers. Tracking from store to store may not be possibly done by any retailer, yet the
information in different retail database if combined can establish a detailed picture of an
unsuspecting individual that can be used by a private investigator, aggressive marketer or
any one who can access it (Lockton & Richard 2005, p.224).

RFID chip implant in the animals to keep a track of them. This implantation may have
served the purpose to keep the track of the animals and helped in finding the lost ones.
But the serious concerns that have resulted in this are highly aggressive tumors (cancer).
Two American dogs that had this chip implanted in there shoulder, six months later the
skin tissues around the implanted chip were damaged. The investigation revealed that the

cancer has spread in the entire body, later resulting in death of both the dogs. It has also
been reported that implanting RFID chip can cause blockage of vein. Since the chip is
very small almost the size of a rice grain (encased in a glass container), it may travel in
the blood vessels, resulting blockage of any vein. In America an RFID chip was
implanted in the cat to keep it traceable. A few months later the cat was paralyzed. Upon
diagnosing it was established that the chip had entered the spinal column that has caused
paralyses (Katherine Albrecht, 2009).

De activating the RFID tags is still a phenomena unresolved. Although the RFID system
provides the best linkage between the tag and its reader it undermines individual’s
privacy rights. Items once purchased should not be traceable. This threat of continuously
traceability is a major concern to human beings. It is just like being under twenty four
hour surveillance, somebody or any body to know your whereabouts. The traceability of
goods in the ware house, smart shelves and inventory management is vital but when the
same is implemented to humans it is not only an issue but also a threat. This issue was
put in front of human right organization after people came to know about the hidden
plans of Benetton Company. Benetton the clothing retailers of America placed RFID tags
to their clothes. This caused them a huge loss as the public came aware they called for a
boycott making the retailer to discard their plan to use RFID tags in there clothing’s
(Michael & McCathie. 2005).

Nokia has introduced new mobile phones which have inbuilt RFID. The inbuilt wireless
system can catch movie advertisements from billboards that carry the same technology. It
makes it easy for busy people to reserve or buy weekend movie nights tickets without
hassle of standing in the long queues or encounter situations where all tickets are sold
out. Although this may make things easy for people living hectic lives but then this can
make them lose their credit card information while the transaction is in process.
Information can be hacked from unknown sources that can use the retrieved information
for illegal use. Another issue linked with the adoption of these new mobiles is that when
the mobile service and RFID systems are combined they can establish the user’s location.
(Hyangjin & Jeeyeon, 2006).

‘As RFID pushes further ahead, it has to be ensured that the public voice is not
ignored; at the very least, it must have a say on how item-level tagging information is
collected and used.’ (Lockton & Richard 2005, p.224).

4- Conclusion

The features that RFID offers are certainly a step ahead in comparison to today’s
available technologies. RFID’s ability to track the items enhances the visibility across the
whole business system to identify real situations at work, which makes decision making
quick and easy. That in turn assists in reducing inventory cost, processing time and labor
cost. Though the RFID tags performance between the reader and tag is well designed but
it neglects a vital concern of human privacy. De activating the RFID tags is still a
phenomena unresolved. This issue develops the challenges that impediment its adoption
and implementation.

5- Understanding and presenting own vision.

Technology has always something new to offer. It keeps on improving the present
technologies. Radio frequency identification device (RFID) and bar coding system have a
number of similarities but there are some differences that prove RFID to be more
advanced. RFID improves coordination, and information flow within the businesses.
I believe every technology comes with its positives and negatives. Take an example of
computers that has made a remarkable difference in our lives. But there are issues like
virus and computer hacking that can cause people to lose their personal information.
Different programs like fire wall and anti virus are developed to counter such issues,
though the issues are not totally eliminated but assist sufficient for the technology to
continue. My understanding in regard to RFID system is that this technology has the
potential to improve systems, provided its issues are resolved.


Gaukler, G & Seifert.W, R. 2007, Trends in Supply Chain Design and Management,
Springer Series in Advanced Manufacturing, Springer London.

Katherine Albrecht, Implementation RFID in Animals, (2009), 29-03-2010,

Lockton.V & S.Rosenberg. R. 2005, ‘RFID: The Next Serious Threat to Privacy’, Ethics
and Information Technology, vol. 7, pp. 221-231.

Lee, H & Kim J. 2006, ‘Privacy threats and issues in mobile RFID’, Proceedings of the
first International Conference on Availability, Korea Information Security Agency.

Michael, K & Mc Cathie, L. 2005, ‘The Pros and Cons of RFID in Supply Chain
Management’, Proceedings of the International Conference on Mobile Business,
University of Wollongong, pp 623-629.