While RFID chips have been around for quite a while, and are getting smaller - think a grain of rice cut down to a third of the original size - the applications for these passive devices are ever increasing. A company in Wisconsin called Snagg currently markets an RFID chip retrofitting kit for just $25, allowing you to insert the chip into valuable possessions (musical instruments, bicycles, tools, electronics) giving you a strategy to identify them if they should be stolen.
It may take some time before radio frequency identification of possessions becomes as common as using RFID chips to keep track of your dog or cat, but in the meantime, here are two of the latest uses for microchips.
(Even smaller) RFID chips for Pet Identification
Used for identification purposes, the RFID chips placed under the skin of dogs, cats, and other animals already seem quite small. Described as about the size of a grain of rice, these microchips are passive devices read by an RFID scanner. But as many people prefer to implant the RFID chip when their animal is young, PetHealth is offering an even smaller, less invasive option for cats, kittens, and small breed dogs.
"The MiniChip offers a smaller-scale alternative, without compromising any of the protective benefits of our standard microchip technology," Mark Warren, President and CEO of PetHealth said.
The MiniChip is a third the size of conventional RFID chip used for animals, and uses a 16 gauge injection needle that's approximately 60% smaller than the standard. As the only truly permanent method of pet identification, microchipping as it's called, can be the best way to recover lost pets. When a vet, shelter, or humane society finds an animal, they use a scanner to read the RFID chip and using the unique number, identify the pet's owner.
Keeping Track of Medical Sponges Using RFID Chips
Surgical sponges, the foreign objects most frequently left inside patients during surgery, can be both dangerous and costly to patients and to medical staff. A mistake that occurs, on average, at least annually at every major medical institution, losing track of sponges can lengthen surgical procedures, negatively affect patient safety, and put added stress on doctors and nurses.
"Sponges are a dangerous thing to leave inside people, often more serious than leaving a needle or some instruments because the porous material really fosters growth of an infection," Steve Fleck, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at ClearCount Medical Solutions, said.
That's why the FDA-approved, SmartSponge System was developed. Each sponge includes an RFID chip that's sewn securely into a pouch in the corner. Smaller than a dime, each RFID chip provides a unique identifier. And since the data is encrypted, the RFID chips can't be read by other systems.
As RFID chip technology continues to improve and as tag prices decrease, it's likely that more applications like these will come on the market.