Surprising Uses for RFID

4 Surprising Uses for Industrial RFID Technology

Have you read the glowing praises of industrial RFID and barcode technology, and wondered just exactly what the hype was for? What the applications could possibly be that would lead to such adoration?

Like any tech, the promises tend to outweigh the practical uses — that’s just the downside of hype. However, RFID and barcodes have been implemented in extremely innovative ways, not only for inventory management, but for customer engagement, customer satisfaction, advertising, emotional support, and just quality-of-life improvements for their users.

We’ve seen RFID bracelets at hospitals and in a warehouse, but what other uses do such accurate tracking chips have? Could your business find a use for an RFID system that you just haven’t thought of yet?

And if so, is your business or industrial computer setup able to integrate smoothly with RFID tech?

1) Ditching Lost Luggage

It’s the dreaded (and entirely reasonable) fear that all travelers possess — the certain knowledge that your luggage isn’t going to make it to your destination alongside you. That somehow, some way, your bag is going to end up on a one-way flight to Kuala Lumpur while you’re landing in Dublin.

And of course, there is some cause for worry: according to SITA, 24.1 million bags were lost in 2014. However, some airlines have already switched to RFID tracking systems for all of their luggage, hoping to curtail those losses.

In 2016, Delta invested $50 million dollars to implement RFID tags, RFID scanners, industrial tablets, and the training required to use them. They saw a marked jump in baggage check and delivery accuracy, going so far as to boldly claim that “99.9% of all those bags will now be correctly identified.” Since then, over 60% of airlines have implemented similar systems.

With RFID technology, airlines have even been able to implement bag notifications too, sending texts or notifications through an airline app to passengers. This pings the passenger right when their bag has been loaded into the plane. It also confirms that it was the correct plane, and the correct flight, offering anxious passengers true peace-of-mind.

2) Saving the Rainforest

The rainforest isn’t what it used to be — in Brazil alone, home of the Amazon rainforest, 19% of the rainforest has been lost to logging since 1950. And considering that the Amazon provides for 20% of the oxygen on Earth, that’s a sobering statistic.

Liberia (and other countries) have begun using barcodes to discourage illegal logging. The trees in legal logging areas — determined by sustainability — are stamped with barcodes. These barcodes can be tracked during the entire logging process, allowing those in the supply chain to know exactly where each log came from and when it was cut.

This full-accountability makes illegal logging extremely difficult: when logs show up without a barcode, the nationwide system and those operating it know the person in possession of the log has likely either committed a crime or been sold or offered contraband goods by another party.

The system has not only helped the environment, but it also helped the economy — since the EU prevents the sale of logs that can’t be proven to be legally harvested, Liberia can now sell lumber to a far larger market than ever before.

Other countries and municipalities have even upgraded from barcodes to RFID tags for their logging as they become less expensive and more widespread.

3) Preventing Casino Heists

That’s right — next time you get pushed a stack of winnings at a Vegas casino, those chips will have their own chips inside of them.

Using RFID chips embedded within, casinos can track poker chips wherever they go. Who has them, where they are, how they’re spent, and how often they change hands, just to name a few uses. This kind of data gives casinos a deep well of information about how customers are spending their money, what their win rates are, how fast chips circulate, what the popular tables are, what the hot or cold tables are: all the customer demographics and use patterns a casino could ever want.

They’ve even been used to prevent a $1.5 million robbery at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The perpetrator stole a huge amount of chips, with intent to sell them to a third party who could then redeem them back at the casino.

However, the RFID chips inside the stolen chips were flagged as stolen the instant they disappeared, and thus rendered completely unusable should they ever return to the Bellagio. The perpetrator also tried to sell the stolen chips to undercover cops, which didn’t help his case either.

4) Motivating Marathon Runners

An RFID bracelet in conjunction with high-frequency scanners has a host of applications for targeted messaging. While “advertising” is the most talked-about (and feared) use of this technology, other industries have adapted targeted messaging for unique purposes.

The New York Marathon, partnered with Japanese footwear and sports equipment company ASICs, offered RFID shoe tags to runners. While RFID tags for tracking marathon racers is hardly a new idea, these chips came with a unique feature: the ability to see personalized, timed messages from the racer’s loved ones right to an LED screen near the runner.

Friends, colleagues, and loved ones were able to sign on to “Support Your Marathoner,” an ASICS program that allowed them to draft messages of love and inspiration for their marathoner of choice. Then, as the runner hit different milestones, nearby high-frequency scanners read the RFID tags and dished up one of the messages of encouragement to the beleaguered racer.

That’s the promise of more tech and connectivity, the one we all want to believe in — as a tool to bring us all closer, to let us hear the messages we need when we need it, to spur us on to greater heights.

Knowledge is Power

While RFID has been put to excellent use in the medical and manufacturing fields, it’s important to remember that almost any industry and endeavor could benefit from increased accuracy and connectivity.

Sometimes all it takes is a little imagination and a bit of inspiration.

To find out more uses for RFID and barcoding technology, and how to integrate them with medical, business, or industrial computers, contact Cybernet today.

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