The History of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology – A Little Back Story

The history of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology - A little back story

The History of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology – A Little Back Story

RFID has almost become part and parcel of our lives. Wondering how? We use RFID almost every day knowingly/unknowingly for activities such as – making payments in stores, boarding a flight, or accessing public transport.

With electromagnetic fields, this advanced technology identifies and tracks items carrying an active/passive tag.

Active tags come with their power source to broadcast UIN (Unique Identification Number). A reader can detect these tags over a wider distance. But passive tags need energy from close by RFID readers for detection.

You can use RFID tags to immediately identify an item. As you can tag numerous tags at a time without the requirement for the label’s physical sight, it saves your time in stock management. They can also hold much more information than barcodes and create more precise identification for products, monitoring, tracking, and data storage.

Due to their mini size, RFID tags are perfect additions to everyday items such as – payment cards, clothes, library books, and passports.

This post outlines the history of RFID technology from how it started, evolved in decades, and so on.

Keep reading.

Where did RFID Technology come from?

RFID, a technology that also supports Near Field Communication (NFC), came into the scene during World War 2. Leon Theremin built an inventive electronic musical instrument that was one of the predecessors of RFID technology.

People could play this instrument without physical touch because of the generated waves at a static frequency. This concept led to the formation of Theremin’s Thing, which was a salient aspect of the history of RFID technology as a consequence of World War 2.

RFID as a spy listening device in World War II

In the year 1945, a bunch of boys from the Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union organized an exclusive ceremonial seal of Harriman (USA to the US ambassador). The seal had radio waves activated antenna that Soviets directed at the US embassy.

The ambassador’s security workers would have examined the seal, also called “The Thing”, to detect electronic bugs and other spy elements. However, they didn’t pick it up without wires/batteries and thus placed the seal in Harriman’s study. This specific location played a significant role to overhear personal conversations for the next seven years.

Railways used RFID tags in the 1970s to monitor carriages. Nowadays, several organizations worldwide, such as the NHS and large retail chains, use RFID tags to monitor assets and handle stock or quality processes.

With technological advancements and Theremin’s decade-old normal idea, these tags have become great tools to track almost all things.

Charles Walton officially launched RFID in 1983 by filing the first patent with the word “RFID”. In 2002, NFC came into the scene and had continued to evolve since then.

Take a look at the history of RFID technology in terms of its evolvement as decades passed by since its inception:

The 1920s

  • Radar was founded as a technology in the US.
  • Soon after, RFID, a combination/radio broadcast technology and radar were invented.

The 1930s

  • British used an IFF transponder, a relevant technology, to categorize enemy aircraft during WW2.

The 1940s

  • Refinement of radar occurred.
  • Harry Stockman published “Communication employing Reflected Power.”

The 1950s

  • Laboratories explored RFID-related technologies.
  • They developed designs for aircraft’s wide-range transponder systems.

The 1960s

  • Inventors started applying radiofrequency technology to devices targeted at markets more than the military.
  • Knogo, Checkpoint, and Companies Sensormatic create theft prevention production for public consumption using Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS).

The 1970s

  • Government laboratories, educational institutions, and researchers worked to build RFID technology.
  • The work done during this time was focused on factory automation, electronic toll collection, vehicle and animal tracking.

The 1980s

  • The full RFID implementation took place. The US and Europe apply RFID to animal tracking, business apps, and transportation systems.

The 1990s

  • The widespread usage of RFID led to the emergence of standards.
  • Consumers and companies worldwide used RFID technology.

The 2000s

  • Advanced technology resulted in miniaturization.
  • RFID technology costs started decreasing consistently.
  • Private authentication grows as the main concern in library implementation.

The Slow Adoption of RFID Technology

Irrespective of its vast history, the adoption of RFID technology was quite slow worldwide, mainly in the retail industry, even after being around for approximately two decades, due to the high expense and inefficiency of precious data proving its capabilities.

Retailers also avoided using RFID technology because of its implementation into current stock management systems and the required cultural changes to support it.

Many retailers, including John Lewis, Decathlon, Adidas, M&S, River Island, Tesco, and John Lewis, have started using RFID in their companies and acquired high ROI. According to reports, they have seen an increase in sales by approximately 5.5% and a decrease in stockholding of around 13%.

Is NFC More Adaptable than RFID Technology?

Near Field Communication(NFC) is a high frequency (13. 56 MHz) and wireless communication technology that enables interaction between two electronic devices close to each other by around 4cms. This interaction between two nearby devices makes NFC more adapter and accessible than RFID via smartphones.

NFC is largely used for access control and contactless payment in public transport and other sectors. It can even leverage excellent opportunities in “smart marketing” and “smart packaging”. You can use NFC to exchange online content and boost customer engagement.

Once you add an NFC tag within your product, customers can scan the tag to learn more about it and easily reorder. It is a cutting-edge security technology that works well on Android and IOS devices and helps you in delivering an excellent customer experience. This technology offers limitless opportunities that you can use to promote customer engagement and experience.

The Future of RFID Technology

RFID is now one of the most widely used technologies in the retail sector. It also delivers excellent solutions to asset tracking issues in the healthcare industry and air transportation markets.

With the growing advancement of multichannel communication and demanding customers, RFID technology, mainly the NFC, also offers lucrative opportunities in other areas such as smart changing rooms, secure authentication, and combined packaging.

RFID technology has a bright future for its advanced features and utilities. Its implementation helps information marketers acquire a better understanding of customer interests and preferences and then tailor marketing strategy accordingly.

Technowave offers top-notch RFID technology services to clients across the world suited to their business requirements. If you want to leverage this advanced technology, get in touch with us right away. We have associated with leading global brands such as Zebra Technologies and Datalogic for their diverse selection of – barcode scanners, RFID Label Printers, wristband printers, Nordic ID, Impinj and Omini ID for their range of RFID readers and antennas. So, you get the best solutions from us at a reasonable price.

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