Will RFID Radiowaves Be Replaced With Flickering Lights?

Written by Evan Schuman
July 10th, 2007

Tired of various challenges with RFID? A Pennsylvania inventor has been awarded a patent for an RFID-like tracking system that uses light instead of radiowaves.

The argument is that it would be more amenable to a crowded warehouse and that it would be less susceptable to unauthorized intercepts.

Patent 7,232,067 (Registering Multiple Similar Items with Flickers) calls for LED tags that will emit visible light, infrared, or ultraviolet.. ?One flicker from a tag, lasting about a thousandth of a second, will convey any desired information about the identity and status of a tagged item. Because the flickers from a collection of items are not coordinated, a collection of tagged items will flicker like fireflies at night,? a filing said, ?the flickers from the various items will not overlap, and a detector will be able to detect the identities of hundreds of items in about a second.?

The inventor also claimed the LED tags could be made completely compatible with any bar code system because those systems already read flickering light. The only problem? Product positioning that could inadvertently block the flickers from being seen, something that radiowaves can literally get around. The inventor who filed is Nicholas Bromer.


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