Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a generic term that is used to describe a system that transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves. It's grouped under the broad category of automatic identification technologies.
RFID technology has been used by thousands of companies for a decade or more. (RFID Business Applications spells out some of the ways the technology has been and will be used.) The technology is not new (see The History of RFID), so why is it taking off now?
Until not so long ago, the cost of RFID has limited its use. For many applications, such as tracking parts for just-in-time manufacturing, companies could justify the cost of tags—a dollar or more per tag—by the savings an RFID system could generate. And when RFID used to track assets or reusable containers within a company’s own four walls, the tags could be reused.