In Service of Mankind

RFID is one technological breakthrough that can be of great help to every person if properly innovated and commercialized. One of the applications can be to help locating the goods stolen or lost and reducing the burglary or theft. Cars are the most sought after items by gangs near around Delhi. As the news goes, after killing Dr. Papiya Ghosh and her maid in her Patna house, the burglars have taken away the booty in her car and the police have not been able to find even the car till date. Perhaps with RFID incorporated in car design, the problem of locating the position of the car would have been easy.

Another fixtures that women like very much are the costly ornaments. However, they hardly use them because of the fear of snatching outside or of theft from house. Can’t RFID be integrated in costly ornament design to give its location on real time basis if so required? With abduction of children of rich and influential people becoming an industry in some part of the country, perhaps an intelligent RFID is to imbed in all the children to assist in case of emergency.

Gemma Simpson and Jo Best have compiled a list of 10 the best, worst… and craziest uses of RFID.

Japanese authorities decided to start chipping schoolchildren in one primary school in Osaka a couple of years ago. The kids’ clothes and bags were fitted with RFID tags with readers installed in school gates and other key locations to track the minors’ movements. Legoland also introduced a similar scheme to stop children going astray by issuing RFID bracelets for the tots.

Pub tables:
Thirsty students can escape the busy bar and still get a pint thanks to RFID tables that deliver orders remotely. The high-tech bar is fitted with touch screens so students can get a round in, order a taxi or even chat-up someone at the next table.

Fulham Football Club:
Fulham FC has started issuing RFID-enabled smart cards to fans to cut queues at the turnstiles and increase safety around the stadium. Around 20,000 of the smart cards have been issued to mainly season ticket holders and club members and contain data on matches each cardholder has paid for.

Air passengers:
It was also suggested by boffins at University College London that air passengers should be RFID-tagged as they mingle in the departure lounge to improve airport security.

RFID has also made an appearance in the army to try and reduce casualties from ‘friendly fire’ incidents.

Hospital in-patients:
In an effort to trim clinical errors, hospitals in New York and Germany have been tagging their patients. Visitors to the hospitals are given RFID-chipped wristbands to wear, which are scanned by medical personnel to bring up their records and make sure the patients are given the correct dosages of drugs.

The same clinic, which tags its patients, is also tagging blood. No vampire-pleasing effort this, rather the Klinikum Saarbruecken is using the tags to make sure the right blood reaches the right patient. Nurses will be able to scan the tags using reader-equipped PDAs or tablet PCs and check that the blood data matches the information held on an RFID-tagged bracelet worn by the patient. The National Patient Safety Agency in the UK is also considering a similar move.

Marks and Spencer has long been associated with being at the forefront of flogging ladies’ undies. It’s also now at the forefront of item-level tagging, having chipped some of its men’s clothes. The retailer has avoided questions of privacy protection by attaching the tag to a label on the suit that can be cut off. M&S has now extended the trials nationwide.

One of the more controversial applications is soon-to-be mandatory use of RFID in passports. The US is leading the way in deployments and the UK isn’t far behind. As well as the obvious privacy fears that surround such rollouts, experts have questioned how secure the passports are with some claiming to have cracked and cloned them already.

The first item-level rollout in Europe has already taken place in Dutch book store BGN. Each of the books in BGN’s Almere store is chipped and a second store, in Maastricht, will soon go the same way, allowing the retailer to track each book from its central warehouse to the shop floor.

Technology will be at the service of mankind, if we use it properly. RFID can be a revolutionary in this direction. Are Indian entrepreneurs listening?

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