The History of RFID

The History of RFID

RFID technology has been around since WW2. RFID systems were inspired by Leon Theremin’s Electrical Music Instrument, which could be played without physical touch and worked by waves generated by an instrument at static frequency. The creation of Leon Theremin’s innovative design allowed the creation of many new devices to be used in the second world war.

From the 1970s, RFID tags were used for everyday purposes like monitoring railway carriages. Nowadays, RFID tags and readers are used in everyday life, regardless of the industry. As RFID systems, increase in popularity the environments they can be used in also increase.

How do RFID systems work?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. They work by incorporating electromagnetic and electrostatic coupling and can identify objects using radio waves. RFID readers transmit a radio signal with an integrated or external antenna, to a tag which is located on each object that needs to be tracked.


In 1945, the Young Pioneer Organisation of the Soviet Union introduced a hand-carved ceremonial seal of the USA to the US ambassador, Harriman. However, within the seal was an antenna activated by radio waves that were aimed at the US embassy by the Soviets. This was used as an undercover microphone and helped broadcast private conversations.

When the seal was placed in Harriman’s study, it would have been checked for electronic bugs and other spy equipment. However, without batteries or wires, nothing was picked up by security staff. For seven whole years, this location was prime for overhearing private conversations.

The environments they are used in are:

Emergency services – In the emergency services sector, response time is critical rather than wasting time on locating specific items, which can dangerous. With the use of RFID software, tracking the location of items help streamline emergency service operations.

University sectors – The use of RFID tools in the university sector helps to ensure the safety of students and teachers. RFID systems have been increasingly popular within educational institutes in recent years. Many universities provide students with cards which are RFID-enabled, allowing students to enter buildings on their campus and monitor the location of each student.

Financial sectors – In the financial sector, the use of RFID tools can be used to track and monitor the movement and location of specific assets, like courier bags, cash, cheques and more.

Construction services – RFID systems can help to enhance the safety of workers; the location of items can be found quicker and project management becomes more efficient.

With RFID readers and tags becoming the norm for many industries, the instances they can be used in also increase. This has led to the popularity of barcodes declining. RFID tags are seen as the replacement for barcodes for numerous reasons such as:

  • Read and write data quicker than barcodes.
  • RFID readers can scan multiple items at a time, whereas barcodes cannot.
  • RFID readers can read data from a longer range.

The future is ‘RFID’

RFID has come a long way over the last few decades and has become a staple component for many industries. At TEC-RFID, our goal is to make RFID systems as simple as possible, so our customers can quickly realise the benefits it provides.

Learn more about our RFID readers, tags, and software or contact us to book a demo.

The History of RFID
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