14 RFID Pros and Cons

Radio Frequency Identification [RFID] technologies have been around for more than a generation. They’re used for pet tracking, credit card security, and even make sure that your luggage gets to where it needs to go. The advantages of using this technology are often discussed, but it is important to note that RFID tech isn’t without its disadvantages as well. Here are some of the key points to consider with this technology.

What Are the Pros of RFID Technology?

1. It is extremely convenient.
Instead of using barcodes and scanners, an RFID reader can instantly give a single code of information that is useful to people and businesses. They don’t require a point of reference to read information like a QR code requires either. A scanner is simply held in the vicinity of the chip and the frequency is read. This allows for faster processing of merchandise or provides needed info in an instant.

2. It is incredibly small.
RFID chips are small enough that they could be placed underneath the skin of someone without much discomfort at all. They’re already used for pet identification for this exact same reason. Even if there are allergies to the metals or plastics containing the chip, there is a wide enough variety of materials that can be used so that a vast majority of people can benefit from what they are able to provide.

3. It is a rugged technology.
Unlike a computer that won’t work under certain environmental conditions, RFID chips keep operating in virtually any situation. When tags or boosters are used to read the radio signal, the chip can be identified within the confined of an entire building. This allows for instant recognition of where someone might be so they can be located in an emergency.

4. It provides easy inventory management solutions.
Instead of manually counting every item that is in a warehouse, the individualized RFID signals of each product could be counted electronically with accompanying detection software for instant inventory counts. This speeds up the delivery of service, provides instant updates to online product descriptions, and even could help with valuation purposes for tax documentation. Even a fleet of vehicles equipped with RFID technology could be effectively tracked if necessary.

5. It allows for a database to become portable.
If enough encryption is included to protect the data, it is feasible for an RFID chip to contain a database full of information as a potential backup system. If the primary database is compromised for any reason, it can just be shut down and the RFID database can be implemented instead. Although it would require syncing or daily updates, it’s a fair cheaper alternative than losing the data and could eventually be cheaper than cloud-based systems.

6. Everything happens in real time.
Despite this being the information age, data tracking tends to be delayed. Even financial tracking may be delayed as much as 15 minutes. When changes happen in seconds, even just a 1 minute delay can seem like a lifetime. RFID technologies allow for real-time tracking of equipment, items, and even people if equipped with GPS alerts as well. Although this may cause privacy or religious ethics concerns, the cost savings could also be potentially enormous.

7. Customer service becomes instantly enhanced.
With real-time tracking, it becomes much easier to determine where items are, if they’ve been shipped, or what the status of a return may be. This also means that customer service becomes easier to provide, enhancing the consumer experience.

What Are the Cons of RFID Technology?

1. It is easy to intercept the data on the RFID chip.
Anyone with a basic RFID scanner can access the signal information to obtain the line of code that is being broadcast. That means anyone with a scanner can walk down the street, scan people without them realizing it, and take their credit card information or identification info in a second. PIN technology tries to compensate for this fact, but it isn’t always 100% reliable. Encrypted data can help provide an extra level of security.

2. The range of scanning can be quite small.
Although boosters can extend the range of an RFID signal dramatically, there are still limits to how far the broadcast range happens to be. This limits their effectiveness, especially when the signal is blocked by certain liquids, metals, and other materials.

3. The cost of its development can be rather high.
There is no real standardized infrastructure within the RFID development industry right now. This means that not every business has a way to incorporate the technology in an affordable, meaningful way. For those who wish to incorporate RFID technology into their products, every business must essentially create their own journey to include the technology and start their research from basically scratch.

4. There’s the possibility of virus infection.
Any technology that creates a broadcast signal has the chance to be hacked. That makes it possible for the information received from the RFID signal to be potentially unreliable. The consequences of that depend on how the technology is being used. If it is for payment purposes, it could create an identity theft issue where someone may not gain access to their account even though they have money within it. Detectors could also have viruses that may record the data for identity theft purposes.

5. RFID chips are very easy to clone.
As long as someone has a handheld device that can accurately read the signal being broadcast, they have the ability to clone the information using a basic transponder. The device would only need to be close to the signal for a couple of seconds for the information to be copied since most chips have no security features built into them. What could happen? Credit card information could be stolen, identification information, or other personal details that may allow a thief to instantly become a different person.

6. There are several ethical questions that must be resolved.
Not everyone supports RFID technology. Whether someone believes that human chipping is the mark of the antichrist or they are just concerned that Big Brother could spy on them, there are active members of every society that avoid using these chips because of their concerns and personal ethics. These questions must be answered before the technology is incorporated in any way by a new business to avoid going out of business prematurely.

7. New technology may make RFID chips obsolete.
In technology years, RFID tech has already outlived most of its competition. With five decades of experience, new innovations in the coming years could eliminate all of the benefits of this technology.

The RFID pros and cons show that as long as the questions of security and ethics can be addressed, this technology can be highly beneficial to people and businesses. RFID technology is in many places today. Where will it be tomorrow? That’s up to you.

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