Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology will be used in virtually every industry for a wide variety of purposes:
Manufacturing, warehousing and transportation – Product shipments on pallets and in boxes will be monitored by RFID tags, allowing for current and exact inventory monitoring. The technology also will reduce human error in manufacturing and transportation processes. The U.S. Postal Service and the United Parcel Service (UPS) intend to use RFID to track mail and packages.
Health care and senior care – Patients, residents, staff and visitors will receive RFID tags to enhance security. The tags will be especially useful in nurseries and senior citizen homes. In the future, the tags also will be able monitor the status of drug treatments such as intravenous bags of medications for individual patients.
Retailers and marketing – RFID tags will enable stores to monitor how much product is on their shelves and will deter theft. Retailers will know when shelves need restocking, which products the customer picked up initially and put back on a shelf, which items customers buy together and even the sequence in which customers select products.
Security – The U.S. military is experimenting with RFID to track the whereabouts of soldiers and equipment. Coal mining companies are tracking miners entering and leaving mines. Hospitals will track the whereabouts of patients and patients. Airlines and airports will use RFID to track baggage and the locations of people in secured areas. Police will use RFID to return stolen goods to their original owners. Prisons will use the technology to monitor inmates and visitors.
Consumers – The possibilities are endless. Washing machines of the future may sound an alarm if a dry-clean-only shirt is tossed in with the wash-and-wears. Tomorrow’s smart refrigerator may order a replacement for an empty milk jug. RFID chips may be subdermally embedded in pets, key governmental officials, high-powered corporate executives and children to protect them from kidnappings.