2017: Year of the Radio Frequency Identification

Readers and tags. Those are the two engineering objects that just might be the most utilized engineering invention of 2017.

The interconnectedness of our industrial complexes and our cities is developing at a fast rate - thanks to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) and the Internet of Things (IoT). The sensors (the readers) that will wirelessly connect to networks, and generate instant data, will "keep an eye on things" with speed that engineers could only have dreamed of in the past. Thus, identifier tags are necessary.

This is where RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) comes in. Being read by sensors connected to a cyber network infrastructure powered by IoT technologies, the tracking of items via a system of RFID tags will be a technology utilized in a big way in the upcoming year. The technology is becoming the most widely used standard of auto-ID technologies. Engineers are putting the technology to work for the betterment of society. It is commonly used in industrial operations, food processing factories to streamline food tracking and security, and the agricultural industry. The technology has also been venturing into the world of aerospace engineering and biomedical engineering due to its remote sensing - the tags themselves are being tested without any battery-powered components thanks to technological advances.

Now the tags are also coming to a supermarket near you:
Goodbye, Barcodes. The Electronic Engineering Times believes that just through publishing the video, Amazon has become the envy of some engineering giants and has thrust RFID into the mainstream. Based on the success of their first Amazon Go store opening in Seattle, retailers could be enlisting large numbers of engineers to develop and install their very own RFID-tagged items and artificial intelligence billing systems inside their stores.

Amazon admits that the technology they are utilizing at the store will be similar to that of self-driving cars. The patent for the technology was registered on the 8th of January, 2015. It shows that both cameras coupled up to a deep learning machine and RFID readers and sensors will work together to make the store work.

The report details that RFID tags can be glued to the items of food being sold with an adhesive, then activated through an internal power supply. Alternatively, they may also experiment with tags that do not have power supplies and is activated rather through the RFID reader.

The report also says many other engineered sensors may be used in the future, depending on the engineers' needs:
"In addition to camera, other input devices, such as pressure sensors, infrared sensors, a scale, load cells, a volume displacement sensor, a light curtain, etc., may be utilized with the implementations described herein"