More and more often we hear about RFID, but even though this technology is increasingly used for an infinity of applications, it is still little known to the vast majority of people!
In relation to it, we talk mostly about its innumerable uses, its implementations, its advantages, its disadvantages (PS: it has none!!), types of tags, types of readers, of various reading distances and costs.
But little we know about history of RFID: who is the real inventor of this innovative technology? In what year we start talking about RFID? For what purpose was it born?
Well, let’s retrace together the stages that have marked the history of RFID:
RFID technology originates from World War II to meet the Germans’ need to identify aircraft and determine whether they were friendly or enemy vehicles in low visibility conditions (so-called IFF systems).
The first real predecessor of modern RFID technology was Mario W. Cardulla who, at the beginning of 1973, obtained a patent for the invention of an active RFID tag with rewritable memory.
That same year Charles Walton, a Californian visionary, obtained a patent for the invention of a passive tag used to open a door without a key. Specifically, a badge with a built-in RFID tag opened the door electronically if touched in front of a reader integrated into the door. The so-called “Key Card” system.
Also in those years, Los Alamos National Laboratory in the U.S.A was developing an RFID system capable of tracing nuclear materials safely. The solution consisted of a series of readers affixed at the gates of secure facilities and tags that were attached to vehicles carrying radioactive material. This allowed trucks to be easily and securely identified at various points along its route.
Moreover, the RFID technology was brought in the agricultural sector on request of the Agricultural Department of the US, in order to track cows and inform whether it was vaccinated or received medicines. The system consisted of injecting a passive transponder under the skin of the cows. The RFID was based on a low radio frequency (125kHz). The transponder drew energy from the reader, reflecting back a modulated signal to the reader using a technique known as “backscatter”.
However, it is only 10 years after a patent is filed in which the abbreviation RFID appears for the first time.
Ultra-high frequencies (UHF) are used and appreciated. IBM was an inventor of UHF, who start to trial with Wal-mart. IBM later sold on the technology to Internec. However, it turns out that the UHF was not widely used due to high costs and a lack of standardizations.
UHF RFID technology reached finally popularity. A large number of organizations joined together to set up the research center “Auto-ID Center” at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the aim to create the standards for the different elements of RFID technology so that it can be used in many businesses.
Now we know the history of RFID! How it was born and how radio frequency technology has evolved over time. RFID is now used in many sectors and the advantages for the industries and society as a whole are remarkable considering the high pervasiveness of this technology.
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