This is a guest post and part of our ongoing Student Life series

A Recap on Orlando’s RFID LIVE

The first day was devoted to the I EEE C RFID annual meeting, which is a non-profit organization that specializes in “Bridging the physical to the digital” with its mandate to educate both in theory and application of RFID and its related systems–bringing together an array of council members from all over the globe. 

occc

Over the course of the subsequent days that followed, hundreds gathered at the Orange County Convention Centre, from all over the globe—participating in Mark Roberti’s 14th Annual RFID Journal Live, with over 100 RFID/NFC Industries, businesses, partners councils and affiliates being represented Orange County was filled with activities on three levels–including technical and theoretical seminars, workshops and track sessions, along with the RFID Live Journal Trade Show. In addition, 100 hours were devoted to educational sessions including topics ranging from Engineers to Defense/Aerospace speaking on how Boeing is using RFID for improving viability within the production process to Innovation topics such as ways in which RFID is being used for Human Objection detection and interaction, including discussions on both the art and implications of Draft Day, DNA tags. While many Industries sharing and overlapping markets there no shortage in applications for RFID/NFC nor was there any sense of threat that such innovation could be swallowed up with newer technologies, or that the consumer would go back in time, to former alternatives such as Ultrasound or Infrared, due to mounting threats to the environment’s sustainability.  Rather there was a shared sense that the solution to most business related problems could indeed be found within the technology itself.

Nicely balanced with examples of real application and ways in which such technology may be used to increase business efficiency

During Mark Roberti’s Strategic Workshop on RFID he argued that while the Internet of things is maximized, RFID has found its home with Industries demanding increased efficiency. During his talk he discussed just how the RFID with reading capabilities between 30 to 1000 feet (depending on whether it was active or passive), was a part of a suite of other technologies, such as bar codes, 2D bar codes, Passive RFID (LF, HF, UHF), Active Rfid (433 MHZ, 915 MHZ, 2 45 Ghz), Hybrid Rfid, RF Sensors as well as RFID alternatives.  Such discourse was nicely balanced with examples of real application and ways in which such technology may be used to increase business efficiency, such as reduce loss and alleviate waste of precious resources, suggesting RFID used to track unpurchased foods could be used to help alleviate world hunger (Roberti, 2016).

During the heavily based scientific based discussions, other ideological concepts did surface.  This mainly was contextualized within language that suggested oppositions to RFID technologies were due to humanity’s resistance to change—boiling it down to an array of fears-based premises, such as “fear of the unknown”.

Feedback from a SSIT Perspective

Certainly the real threat is not on technology but rather on improper use—being the true wild bandit.  Such concerns cause us to ask the question, “What will the future hold, should all utility be accepted and adopted without constraint, with a propensity that appears to be moving towards ever greater complexity? If we stop asking questions or override regulation that do not justify our end-goal, how then will we safe-guard freedom of choice for tomorrow’s society?

“Today we have choice, but tomorrow, if everything goes wireless, what will we have left?”

While it is imperative to keep technology’s advances within its proper perspective, perspective requires contrast, different sub-set and/or paradigmatic values.  It may safely be argued that in order to keep a proper technological perspective, it necessitates that less technically-advanced systems are maintained, such as innovations that do not rely on wireless infrastructures.  From a human rights perspective, only when ‘real’ options are given, are fundamental rights of choice safe-guarded. From an ethicist’s perspective, the real threat does not rest in the technology itself but rather in its potential for ill use as well potential for overall dominance in the market-place that replace less-technologically advanced infrastructures.

Conclusion

As the utility of RFID/NFC are ever increasing, with this is the mounting threat that strategic efforts surrounding its usage are making opposition even more obsolete—leaving concerns rightly justified, and even more so as new applications continue to evolve and the adoption rate gains momentum to a near point of ‘no turning back’. Certainly we do not have all the answers, but I left the conference with this question, one that has surfaced over and over again, “Today we have choice, but tomorrow, if everything goes wireless, what will we have left?”

Sharon Bradley-Munn
School of Computing and Information Technology

Sharon is a current student from the School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongong.