RFID: Evolving Into an Enterprise Solution

New RFID innovations may open the door to broader-based RFID solutions in the retail and business sectors.

A more recent innovation in this area involves not a vehicle's access to an area, but a driver's access to a vehicle. Keyless entry is now almost a given in new automobiles—they all come with the little battery-powered remote control that unlocks your car from your balcony and terrifies your friends with its panic mode. But RFID keyless entry and ignition solutions may make controlling access to a vehicle even simpler.

Three years ago FedEx began using custom-made vehicles and issuing their drivers RFID wristbands. Drivers of these vehicles need only hold the wristband near the driver's-side door to unlock it. Then the courier can press a button on the dash to start the car—no keys, less downtime, more security, more efficiency. Corporations could use this same solution to control access to company cars.

* Building Asset Management. Asset tracking and management have become more important to businesses since the laptop's popularity exploded. Controlling access to a facility doesn't always protect a business' property, particularly from its own employees. But RFID asset tracking solutions have eased such fears.

Also in this month's ST&D, Rich Maurer explores the specifics of RFID asset management solutions and their benefits and drawbacks quite ably, so I won't go further here. I will emphasize, however, that asset management applications for RFID almost invariably offer some form of cross-departmental benefit.

Douglas Cram, vice president of sales and marketing for AWID, cites one example: "One of the big applications we found with our AVI reader has been with a long-term care facility. We can tag wheelchairs." Not only does this protect the asset itself—the wheelchair—it provides additional benefits for the resident. "We're doing elevator call with it; we're also doing standard access control with it. Keep in mind that these are folks who don't have the luxury of being able to move their hands. Most are using the sip and puff devices to operate their wheelchairs. Therefore, mobility is a huge quality of life issue for these folks." By using RFID to provide controlled access and to call elevators to service residents in wheelchairs, management can help those residents navigate the facility more easily, with less strain on their bodies.

RFID has over the century contributed immensely to the security technology market, and its long history has provided it a solid base for future development. It now plays a role in security across the retail and business sectors, and new innovations are clearly on the horizon.

Marleah Blades is managing editor of ST&D. She can be reached at 407-671-3374 or marleah.blades@cygnuspub.com .