D-Tech International was one of the first companies to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in library management solutions. That was back in 1998, and we have continuously invested resources into the development of innovative, cost-effective products that improve security, flexibility in stock management and inventory control, as well as data collection and trend analysis.
We’re understandably quite passionate about RFID, so we thought we would share a little of the science behind the technology with you.
Where it all began
RFID was invented in 1948 by scientist Harry Stockman, who wrote Communication by Means of Reflected Power about this new and exciting technology. But it wasn’t until 1973 that Charles Walton patented the first RFID key card, and unlocked the potential of the technology. In the 1980s, commercial use of the technology increased and throughout the 90s RFID became embedded in a multitude of applications.
How does it work?
RFID systems require a RFID tag, a RFID reader and an antenna. It works by the reader capturing (via radio waves) the digital data sent from the tag. Because the radio signal is a form of energy, it can also be used to power the tag (so no batteries required). The idea is similar to a barcode except RFID does not have to be lined up with a scanner, just in the vicinity of the reader, and because even a miniscule tag can hold a lot more data than a barcode, the scope of its application is phenomenal. Another key difference is that RFID tags don’t just hold readable data, they can also be updated; hence they can be used to record lending history and update security data (allowing them to be taken through security gates).
How is RFID used in a library?
In a library setting RFID technology is used in self-service, staff stations, inventory wands, security systems, 24-hour automated dispensing machines, and laptop storage and charging lockers. RFID can also be used to facilitate automatic sorting. This may be as simple as separating reserved items from other returns, through to transporting via a conveyor system to specific areas in the library.
What is the future for RFID library applications?
Here at D-Tech, we are always looking at ways we can improve the customer experience in libraries as well as benefiting the staff and management. We know that budget constraints are ever present and challenging, so we work with our customers to find the best solution for their needs and their funding. In some cases, that can mean fully-automated 24-hour services; in others, it may mean improved self-service facilities to free up staff resources to interact with library visitors and deliver new services.
If you would like to know more about our products and RFID technology, please call us on 01394 420077.