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ENW 107 Miguel Lopez 3/29/11 RFID, Technology that makes your life easier. Imagine going to the supermarket, picking your favorite products and just exiting the store without waiting in line for the next available cashier. Sounds good? Well, this and much more will be possible soon with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Like everything, this technology has its pros and cons. As you will see, this unique technology will be more beneficial than detrimental to our society. RFID technology is basically composed of a device called a “smart tag” and a reader.

The “smart tag” is placed on the product and it is scanned by the RFID reader. The advantages of this technology over the bar code label system are the large capacity of information that can be stored in the “smart tag” and also that the two devices (“smart tag” and RFID reader) can communicate at a distance of several meters, even if the scanner cannot physically see the tag. For manufacturers, retailers, and logistic companies this technology brings the promise of increase efficiency.

They will be able to track thousands of products, manage their existence and ensure that adequate supplies are always available. Therefore, RFID will make the process of stock control quicker and more efficient, which results in cost savings. Many businesses have already tested this product to track their goods from manufacturers to retailers, results have demonstrated that the technology reduces operational time and help planning the chain of supply more efficiently.

The medical industry will also benefit from RFID because it will be able to have a more efficient way to obtain medical records from patients. When you visit your doctor’s office, he/she will only have to scan your RFID tag and see all your medical history. For instance, if you have a car accident and get unconscious your RFID tag will provide more than just your name, but other important information like your blood type, allergies and medical conditions. This new approach will save numerous people’s lives in accidents or emergency situations.

RFID technology can also be used in case of natural disasters. Earthquakes, floods and tsunamis have taken so many lives. RFID will help to locate people, to know if they are alive and allow for faster rescue of them. For instance, on the Katrina events, 9/11 attacks in New York or the recent natural disasters in Japan, RFID could have helped emergency personnel to realize almost immediately whether or not survivors remained in the rubbish, and prevented rescue personnel from attempting dangerous rescue missions.

RFID opponents say that this technology violates people’s privacy and impose more control over their lives. They fear that RFID tags will not only permit companies to improve efficiency but also spy them on their habits and preferences. It may be true in part, but the reality is that RFID provides more benefits than harm. Our privacy is already in jeopardy. There are hackers out there, stealing personal data and cloning credit cards for fraudulent purposes. As a matter of fact, identity theft is ranked one the most growing crimes in the US according with the US Federal Trade Commission.

The use of “smart tags” will not stop this tendency, but as we protect our computers with antivirus there is technology also that can be used to protect or limit the usage of RFID’s. In conclusion, RFID tags will be beneficial for businesses, consumers, personal use and our society in general. In today’s world where technology improves every day we cannot be blind to the benefits that this technological advance. New legislation, as well as continued consumer vigilance, may be necessary to ensure that RFID’s are used with responsibility.

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