The Squiggle Tag
Alien Technology was one of the first companies to make RFID tags, and its various Squiggle designs became widely used (see RFID tags). (Image courtesy of Printronix, Inc., www.printronix.com)
Reusable Vs. One-Time RFID tags for applications such as highway toll collection and container tracking are in continuous use for several years. Like regular electronic components, the tags are adhered to rigid substrates and packaged in plastic enclosures. In contrast, tags on shipping cartons are used for a much shorter time and are then destroyed. Disposable tags are adhered to printed, flexible labels pasted onto the carton, and these "smart labels" contain an RFID chip and antenna on the back. A thermal printer/encoder prints alphanumeric and bar code data on the labels while encoding the chip at the same time. See RFID tag. RFID Goes Way Back Although first used in World War II to identify friendly aircraft, RFID technology really materialized in the 1980s and began to reach the masses in the 1990s. In 1993, the E-ZPass highway toll system was launched in the Northeast. In 1996, General Motors introduced OnStar, which is satellite-based RFID. A year later, Mobil's Speedpass let people wave a keychain tag at the gas pump to pay by credit card. After the turn of the century, RFID began to proliferate. When Tags Cost a Few Cents When the price of tags becomes economical enough, it is expected that RFID will take off in a myriad of areas. Pundits have suggested applications such as reading a full supermarket cart as it passes by the reader, a washer/dryer that determines its settings from clothing tags and a refrigerator that automatically creates a shopping list. See RFID tag, RFID reader, RFID printer, EPC, Gen 2 and tag singulation.
Keeping Pallets Intact
The unique serial number in the electronic product code (EPC) lets RFID readers scan all the cases in a pallet without having to break it down. This provides a huge cost savings in warehouse management and is the reason why Wal-Mart required its suppliers to begin using RFID in 2005. (Image courtesy of Intermec Technologies, www.intermec.com)
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