In what ways might RFID technology be used to serve customers better? What problems might arise? Do you think that the technology might be valuable when implanted in animals or people?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It is a type of wireless technology and basically has three components to it: a tag, a reader, and a computer system.

The tag consists of a microchip and radio antenna. The microchip in the tag contains essential information about a product or item. To transmit this information to a reader, the tag uses radio signals. After picking up the signals, the reader delivers the information to a computer system. From the computer system, companies can easily track the kinds of products consumers like to buy. This allows companies to position advertisements, sales, and product placements in stores according to their customer's preferences. Also, using RFID technology increases productivity: it is much easier to use, is more accurate, and less error-prone than traditional bar-coding. Thus, increased productivity leads to greater profits for companies.

As for consumers, the benefits of RFID technology are numerous. For example, it minimizes wait times at toll booths, and this in turn reduces traffic congestion during busy hours on a highway. In hospitals, nurses immediately know which medication patients need by referring to their RFID tags. At the store, customers can pay for their purchases by waving credit cards (embedded with RFID technology) under special readers. The most important benefit to consumers is the convenience they enjoy. Wait times at checkout lines will be reduced if customers can rely on RFID technology.

Companies can quickly replace perishable items or recalled items from the shelves; they can also replenish their shelves quickly when popular items run out. This will reduce customers' frustrations when they go to their favorite stores. Yet, with all these benefits, there may be some concerns about RFID technology.

The main concern centers on consumer or personal privacy. For instance, companies can use the technology to track the spending habits of consumers. The claim is that this helps companies tailor advertisements and product releases according to their customers' preferences. Yet, the concern lies in how the gathered information will be used and how many third parties the companies will share the information with.

As for implanting RFID chips into humans and animals, the technology may prove useful in tracking down Alzheimer's patients or even lost pets. Employees who work for government agencies that handle sensitive intelligence data can only enter specific buildings they have received clearances for; their implanted RFID chips will determine exactly what buildings they can enter. Meanwhile, for those patients who have heart conditions, medical professionals can keep track of and even disable pacemakers from a laptop, if necessary. However, this raises a frightening question: what if this technology is abused? It is a chilling thought that this technology can expose a patient to the prospect of sabotage, whether intentional or otherwise.

So, you can see that there are advantages and disadvantages to using RFID technology in our daily lives. For more, please refer to the links below.