In 1973, one of the first RFID tags was introduced to the world. A card with an embedded transponder communicated a signal to a reader on a door lock and opened it without a key. The technology at the time was groundbreaking! 37 years later, E-dologic’s chief executive, Enon Landenberg, envisioned connecting the physical world to the virtual world. In 2010, this dream would become a reality at the Coca-Cola village in Israel. Watch what they do here:
This is just the beginning of what the chip is capable of doing. In the article, “Privacy concerns grow with the use of RFID tags”, numerous ways of using these RFID chips are expressed. Whether it is keeping track of children, following the progress of a marathon runner, or counting the number of times one refills a cup, these RFID chips seem to be doing it all. Although, people have one common concern: can it do too much?
“Things are exploding”, said Victor Vega of Morgan Hill RFID when he described the recent growth of this technology. On one hand, this “explosion” is one that I believe provides an abundance of advantages. Say, for example, a family member was running a marathon, but unfortunately you were unable to attend. Not a problem! RFID chips allow you to follow the progress of your family member as he or she runs the marathon. Or imagine walking up to a movie poster and being able to touch it with your phone allowing you to have instant access to its trailer. RFID chips make this possible. They also have the ability to allow a customer to go to a clothing store, and without even looking, know if their size is present or available. The list of uses for this technology goes on. Despite the seemingly endless usage for this technology, there is a growing concern for the privacy issues that come along with it.
And it is these privacy issues, in my opinion, that could potentially stunt the growth of this market. Check out the reaction of Wal-Mart customers after hearing about the stores latest use for the RFID chips:
Perhaps more severely, there are schools that have installed these chips into the uniforms of their young students. They do this with the intentions of eliminating the traditional roll-call-style of attendance in addition to knowing the location of the children at all times. Sounds great, right? Despite how beneficial it is to teachers, the aspect being over looked here is the privacy issue. Without proper security, the well-being of the pre-school children is put into jeopardy, as their information could be instantly accessed through these chips by someone within 100 meters, or about one football field. As a parent, how would that make you feel? See this video for further analysis on this concern:
There is no doubt that RFID technology offers a tremendous amount of benefits for businesses and people across the world. But as these chips become increasingly powerful, it is becoming more concerning than intriguing. Knowing this, I believe that it is important to limit the way we use this powerful technology in the future, because at times, it can do too much.