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Tagging the Future

RFID is coming!

That's the message in recent headlines declaring an HP partnership with BEA, a Sun alliance with SAP, and a series of case studies on RFID deployment. (See HP & BEA Tag-Team on RFID, Dutch Bookstore Rolls Out RFID, Sun, SAP Collaborate on RFID, TrueDemand Links Retailer Ops, Kimberly-Clark Goes for RFID, Axcess Teams With Texas A&M, and Alaska Opts for Universal Guardian.)

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is not just replacing barcoding worldwide it's also making headway wherever an organization needs to tag and track an item or device.

To review: RFID works by using tags on an item that emit radio signals. "Reader" devices pick up these signals, enabling the products to be tracked. Unlike barcode technology, RFID does not require direct contact, or what is known as "line-of-sight" scanning.

That expands the range of possiblities for tracking. Besides products in a retail store's inventory or auto parts in a factory, for instance, RFID can track medication for healthcare suppliers – and double as a security gatekeeper. (See Group Calls for Security Shakeup.)

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