RFID and the Internet of Things
RFID is a term you’re going to start hearing a lot more about, if you aren’t already familiar with it. What is RFID?
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. The technology requires some extent of cooperation of an RFID reader and an RFID tag.
RFID tags have little bits of data encoded into an integrated circuit and are usually placed on something in need of auditing, like goods at Wal-Mart or more recently US passports. An RFID reader then sends a signal which is picked up by the RFID tag’s antennae and sends back the data that it picks up.
Here’s another example of what they can do: You’re off to the grocery store to pick up some milk, bread, cheese and a bottle of wine. Each item of these items has an RFID tag and when you go to check out you won’t need to scan each item, the cashier will already know the cost. All you have to do is bag your stuff and pay for it.
If your credit card has an RFID chip, you won’t need to take the card out of your wallet, just authorize the purchase with a thumb scan or a signature.
When you arrive home and unpack all your items, putting everything into the fridge, which also has an RFID reader, you refridgerator can tell you which items are about to expire and put in an order for more eggs and yogurt. Your fridge can also tell you what you can make with what you have.
This is happening now.
A company called ZeroG Wireless is producing low-power wireless chips that can be embedded “into any system including consumer electronics, smart energy devices, home and building controls, portable medical sensors, and sensor networks.”
Tikitag is another company that offers a home starter kit with custom software that you can use to program your own RFID chips. These tags are compatible with many third-party scanners like “NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled mobile phones.”
What does this mean to the nonprofit sector?
Imagine having instant auditing capabilities to all the food stored at your foodbank? Or the items for sale at Goodwill? What else could you monitor with these tags? Like the health of rivers or the quality of air? And then having this information accessible from anywhere in the world? And being able to compare this data with other nonprofits?
What do you think?
(Hat tip to Read/Write Web)