So far, the key driver for the development of RFID systems has been the desire to improve efficiency in globalised supply chains but implementation of the technology has been problematic. This is partly due to the manufacturing costs of tags, which are currently too high to justify widespread deployment across supply chains in the way that was originally imagined, and partly due to concerns over the potential for infringing the privacy of consumers who purchase RFID-tagged products. In addition, there are concerns about the health implications for staff employed in RFID-enabled workplaces, although this has not received as much attention in the press.
This TechWatch report provides a brief discussion of these issues as well as a detailed examination of RFID technology, including some of the current uses within research, administration and teaching and learning. The report also includes an overview of the significance of RFID as an enabling technology towards achieving the ‘seamless’ and ‘calm’ vision of ubiquitous computing, the role of the Internet of Things, and plots a future trajectory for RFID development within the wider context of wireless, networked environments.