Barcode vs RFID

A barcode is a method of representing data in a visual, machine-readable format. Although patented in the US in 1952, it took over twenty years before the barcode technology became commercially successful when they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, a task for which they have become almost universal.

However, as alternative, UHF RFID got a boost in 1999, when the Uniform Code Council, EAN International, Procter & Gamble and Gillette put up funding to establish the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Two professors, David Brock and Sanjay Sarma, researched into the possibility of putting low-cost RFID tags on all products aimed to track them through the supply chain. Their idea was to put only a serial number on the tag to keep the price down (a simple microchip storing very little information would be less expensive to produce than a complex chip with more memory). Data associated with the serial number on the tag would be stored in a database that would be accessible over the Internet. (The history of RFID technology, RFID Journal, Jan 16, 2005)


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