RFID: Beyond retail and passive use

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By James Daniels, freelance writer.

A number of technological advancements are helping the retail industry be more efficient and deliver a better customer experience in general. The rise of machines and AI in retail and logistics, for instance, enables automation and other approaches that weren't available a few years ago.

Among the many technologies found in retail, however, RFID remains the most interesting one to follow. It is a simple technology that can be implemented in so many ways. Here are the recent examples of RFID being implemented to achieve great things.

The Amazon Go Story

Amazon Go may just be a concept store, but it is a concept that has captured the attention of many in the retail industry. The store features a series of scanners and sensors that enable customers to simply walk in, pick the items they need, and walk out without having to worry about checking out. The rest of the shopping experience is fully automated.

Many speculated that RFID is the perfect technology for this type of implementation. We already have payment solutions using RFID to identify customers and execute transactions. Similar sensors can be placed on the racks where items are stored, while an RFID chip is added to wearables used by customers.

Of course, many retailers are trying to capitalize on this type of RFID implementation, especially since Amazon Go remains a concept for now. It won't be long before you can have a wearable – an RFID-enabled device that stores your payment credentials and customer details – that works the way the concept intended it to.

RFID in Biohacking

Another interesting implementation of RFID can be found in the biohacking landscape. A Swedish start-up implanted a small RFID chip to its employees – more than 150 of them – to see if the concept of implanted RFID devices works; it does.

Employees with the implanted RFID chip can open doors, access the company's vending machine, and perform other transactions. Many believe that this is the future of retail and the use of RFID technology.

This type of bio hacking is also interesting for the healthcare industry. A recent study compiled by Adelphi University and its online MSHI program revealed that the same RFID implant can be used to store electronic medical records or EMRs.

Patients no longer have to carry a physical drive or a bundle of documents; doctors can simply scan the patient's wrist to access his or her medical records. Students studying for masters in health informatics are exploring practical implementations of this idea as we speak.

A Bright Future

RFID is a technology that will be around for years to come. There are still so many practical applications just waiting to be explored and it is interesting to see the latest concepts being implemented in real-world situations. More importantly, it is a technology that can greatly improve the retail sector, providing customers with seamless, fluid shopping experience that other solutions can't deliver.

Do you think RFID is the future of retail? What other implementations do you find interesting? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below.

About the author

James Daniels is a freelance writer, and describes himself as a business enthusiast, "a bit of a tech buff, and an overall geek". He is also an avid reader, who can while away hours reading and knowing about the latest gadgets and tech, whilst offering views and opinions on these topics.

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