RFID is set to have a huge impact

HAVE you ever wondered how many hours of your life you’ve wasted standing in a queue?

HAVE you ever wondered how many hours of your life you’ve wasted standing in a queue?

In our increasingly busy lifestyles, queuing just doesn’t seem an effective use of our time.

But we could soon be getting back some of that valuable wasted time as the adoption of RFID technology into our everyday lives gains momentum.

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification – is essentially the ability to instantly track and communicate to and from tiny electronic tags, placed on everyday items. The technology is already widely used in the transport and logistics sector, as companies need a more efficient, speedy and reliable way to track goods and containers.

Take this to a smaller physical scale and it’s entirely possible that one day soon you could load up your weekly groceries and walk through a virtual checkout without stopping – the items in your basket would be instantly ‘totted-up’, and the amount deducted from your bank account.

There are many forms of RFID, with probably the most familiar being the technology used in Oyster cards on the Underground and on the buses across London.

Outside of the retail markets, RFID tags can be used to track vehicles, passengers, hospital patients and even pets. The US military widely deploy their forces using RFID technology. Children who play truant could even be tagged though I’m sure civil liberty groups would have a word or two to say about that!

This month, One North East has launched a £1.27m initiative to help local businesses understand and adopt RFID and further Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) into their businesses.

The North East is set to become a key link to the European Centre of Excellence for AIDC, based in Barnsley. The centre was set up to help businesses understand and explore technologies such as barcoding, RFID, smartcards and biometrics. By knowing the identity, location and conditions of assets, companies can optimise their processes and reduce costs.

One North East forecasts that the initiative will achieve cost-savings in excess of £10m over the next two years and with companies looking to increase efficiency while keeping overheads down, this new technology could provide the perfect solution.

So as society looks set for the widespread adoption of RFID, we could soon all find ourselves with more time on our hands, something which certainly seems an appealing thought with Christmas just round the corner!

Stewart Watkins is managing director of the County Durham Development Company


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