Technology has created so many wonders that it has entered into our mainstream lives than just an experiment. With the emergence of new applications and increased quest for smart devices, technology still holds huge potential to change our lives. In this regard, one and a very significant technology that has revolutionized the business applications is the RFID (Radio Frequency ID) Technology. The paper is an attempt to equip the reader of this technology and its applications in a wider sense.
Objective of the paper
The paper in question is written with an objective to provide 360 degree overview of the RFID Technology. When this technology is all set to change our lives, it is but natural that we know about it and its other implications. As a result, the goal of this paper is to throw light on some of the fundamentals of RFID.
The paper specifically discusses the application of RFID in Mobile Commerce and E-Commerce as these two are the fields where the use of RFID has gained enormous relevance and popularity (Gao & Kupper 2006). To gain better understanding, pros and cons of the technology along with recommendations are also provided.
RFID technology is a component under the aegis of Automatic Identification where data is gathered by making use of electromagnetic waves. It is an extended and advanced version of barcode, smart cards, OCR (Optical Character recognition), voice recognition, et cetera (Susy d’Hont n.d).
One important and most striking feature of RFID that enabled it to replace its other counterparts is the Unique Identification Number which it provides. Thus, no two products or tags under RFID can bear the same code or information, making it almost impossible to replicate the data.
Advantages of RFID Technology
Blessed with a number of benefits, RFID technology helps in the following ways (Ilie-Zudor, E et al 2006):
Unlike bar coding, RFID does not require manual labor which reduces errors and omissions and also the costs incurred in employment and collection of data.
Inaccuracies and time lags are removed as information from RFID tags can be read automatically and at several places at a time.
Sensor technology can be integrated with RFID, giving better returns.
RFID tags do not suffer from the limitations of short read range and either read or write memory capability.
Physical barriers like dust, damage and chemicals have less impact on RFID as compared to bar codes.
Limitations of RFID Technology
Even though the technology has diffused deep into our daily lives, yet is gives rise to certain technical, economical and security concerns that are still left to be resolved.
Bespoke applications of RFID technology in communication and business protocols have made it slightly tougher to standardize the features and environment of the application.
The cost of applying this technology is still available to just high end products with longer read ranges. As such, it is still away from the reach of middle level businesses.
Fear of data loss from collision is apparent if several RFID tags are attempted to be read in a single go.
Many instances have been found where RFID tags were defective from its manufacturing stage itself, giving major losses to the business using those tags.
RFID suffers from the fear of technology obsolescence where every day a new technology is developed. This gives a setback to the hefty investments done in RFID.
Due to widespread use of RFID in Mobile Commerce and E-Commerce, security and privacy issues automatically crop up where is it essential that unauthorized access to data and information is prevented. But due to lack of standardization, it seems a distant reality.
Application of RFID Technology to M-Commerce
Seeing the yoy growth of RFID technology in numerous applications, it would be an injustice to mention the growing application of RFID in mobile devices and technology. Mobiles phones entered our lives in the 1990s and have become the most important part of our life, in addition to clothing, food and shelter.
However, mobiles phones are not just talkies today. They have raised to much higher levels of usage and completely transformed into what we can expect from them. Mobile phones, precisely, are now portable systems capable of recording and storing videos, music, photos and what not. Taking it to higher levels, RFID technology has now equipped the mobiles and M-Commerce to function as transactional devices and even locators also. How all this has happened is mentioned below (Mobile Commerce: Opportunities and Challenges, pg. 12):
Communications- mobile phones using communications as a function is already known to us. Being a central strength of these devices, it was limited to instant messaging and emailing through physical systems. However, RFID has made it possible that independent information collection can happen with the use of RFID readers installed in mobile devices.
This way, sending and receiving of data and information can take place without the use of physical internet connection. The mobile RFID technology is self-sufficient to link the mobile to the RFID reader directly, making the transfer of data instant.
Transportation- another amazing contribution of RFID technology coupled with M-Commerce to the business world is its functions and features in the transportation management. Transportation management is very stringent about quality and responsiveness which are actually anchored in place by merging RFID and Sensor technology (Zhu, Wang & Sheng 2005).
All those factors that might have a bearing upon the delivery or the physical condition of the products in transit can be detected by sensors, which can then be communicated to the retailer. The information will comprise of the product ID, features and delivery details. This real time sharing of data can help solve the late delivery issues and prevent much of product damages
Transactions- RFID has brought secure transactions to our disposal by integrating E-Commerce and RFID ragging system to make and receive payment through safer gateways. Now mobiles can function as electronic wallets which can be used for transactions anywhere and everywhere.
Intelligence- the intelligence and features of E-Commerce and RFID are merged and used where GPS (Global Positioning System) enables the mobile devices to locate stores and even people.
Application of RFID Technology to E-Commerce
E-commerce is one area which has witnessed tremendous growth, all thanks to the RFID that has made the processes and activities simpler and faster. RFID has streamlined the e-commerce domain in the following ways:
Warehouse management has been simplified by making use of RFID tags that can track and locate the products and inventory.
Healthcare sector is also being revolutionized by RFID. Now patient’s history and other details can be attached to the medications which can be easily read by a RFID scanner and gives instant access to the information of the patient. Being Unique in its RFID tagging, no two patients can carry the same information.
Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce has been much facilitated by the use of RFID where vendor management and retailing are being dominated by it. An exemplary performance is the Wal-Mart which has made its supply chain profitable by the use of RFID tags.
No doubt RFID has made possible things that were just imaginable. However, there is still a long road to traverse to align the RFID technology into the mainstream processes and the biggest challenge in this is the error free integration which is free of un-authorization, breaches and malpractices.
In this regard, RFID conventions have to be standardized so that a structured framework can be established and penalties can be developed for non-adherence. Secondly, cost effective RFID solutions need to be developed to make it reachable by all levels of businesses. Last but not the least, being an information rich and sensitive technology, data encryption standards and rules have to be devised and implemented that could secure the e-commerce and m-commerce transactions which are completely dependent upon authenticity, validity and privacy of data.
RFID is all set to diffuse deeper into other applications and areas which can make our lives much simpler and easier. The only need of the hour is to take judicious steps and develop anti-collision algorithms which will help tackle adverse situations arising out of the use of RFID technology.
1. Mobile Commerce: Opportunities and Challenges. A GS1 Mobile Com White Paper. Retrieved Aug 2, 2010 from http://www.gs1.org/docs/mobile/GS1_Mobile_Com_Whitepaper.pdf
2. Susy d’Hont n.d. The Cutting Edge of RFID Technology and Applications for Manufacturing and Distribution. Retrieved Aug 2, 2010 from http://www.ti.com/rfid/docs/manuals/whtPapers/manuf_dist.pdf
3. Gao, J & Kupper, A 2006. Emerging technologies for Mobile Commerce, Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, vol.1, pp, 1-4.
4. Ilie-Zudor, E et al 2006, The RFID technology and its current applications, In Proceedings of the Modern Information Technology in the Innovation Processes of the Industrial Enterprises, pp. 29-36. Retrieved Aug 2, 2010 from http://www.traser-project.eu/documents/RFID_MITIP2006.pdf
5. Zhu, W, Wang, W & Sheng, H 2005. Mobile RFID Technology for Improving M-Commerce, Proceedings of the IEEE 2005 International Conference on e-Business Engineering. Retrieved Aug 2, 2010 from http://wns.ice.cycu.edu.tw/wireless/Mobile%20RFID/Mobile%20RFID%20technology%20for%20improving%20m-commerce.pdf