Barcode technology is undergoing a transformation as the speed of innovation increases and the world evolves toward a more global future.
While barcode labels hold a limited amount of information, RFID tags today are smarter. They feature improved data storage and collection, processing, and transmission with read/write technology and radio frequency functionality.
RFID technology is gaining prevalence, however, traditional barcodes aren’t going away. In fact, we’ve already begun utilising traditional barcodes and RFID together! RFID and barcodes combine to form smart labels, and experts agree that as the healthcare industry continues to grow, the usage of these smart new labels will follow suit.
So let’s talk about 6 ways barcodes can be used with RFID to keep up with a more global future:
6 Ways Barcode Technology Will Evolve in the Future
- Smart labels provide a built in back-up plan
- Patient care will become more personalised
- Compound management identification will speed up
- Researchers will be able to locate samples in real time
- Sample sizes will become smaller
- Researchers will accelerate their impact
1. Smart Labels Will Provide a Built in Back-up Plan
Certain circumstances can lead barcodes and RFID to become unreadable, luckily those circumstances differ between the two technologies.
As visual representations of data, barcodes must remain unobscured to be readable by scanners, while radio wave interference from liquids, metals and other wave emitting devices can affect the read range and rates of RFID tags. This makes it difficult, if not impossible for the tags to be read when excessive interference is present.
This means, in situations where excessive radio interference is present, the barcode can be relied upon to identify samples and tools, or in situations where barcodes become obscured the RFID tags can be utilised instead.
Currently, we see this trending in the tracking of reagents in the diagnostics world. RFID tags help track the quality and quantity of reagents associated with diagnostic equipment, while the barcode provides backup identification in cases where the tag is unreadable.
2. Patient Care Will Become More Personalised
Patients will feel the impact of barcode technology’s progression. Automation in diagnostics could move from a large, single lab directly to the patient’s bedside.
Plus, personalised medicine will help doctors diagnose and treat each patient as an individual. Point-of-care diagnostics, made possible by lab data stored on chips, will improve personalisation while also speeding up the diagnostic process.
3. Researchers and Compound Management Facilities Will be Able to Locate Samples in Real Time
Organisations that manage chemical libraries may also use RFID technology increasingly going forward.
In compound management, RFID will help libraries recognise which samples are available and identify their location faster. Smart shelves are one tool that can further improve the efficiency of sample location by allowing the user to first scan the shelf to see if a specific sample is located on the shelf.
Researchers might also use this technology to reduce the risk of sample loss and decrease downtime in the lab.
4. Smartphones Will Become a Powerful Tool
NFC allows smartphones to interact with high frequency RFID tags, transforming them from a distraction into a valuable tool.
Smartphone applications allow the user to read, write, store and organise tag information. Custom software and the cloud can even allow the information to upload directly into your database, bringing a new level of convenience to RFID integration.
5. Sample Sizes Will Become Smaller
Researchers will need much smaller sample sizes as automation becomes more condensed and accurate. This trend of miniaturisation has been a long-standing one, but it shows no signs of slowing down.
Shrinking sample sizes translates to the nature and sizes of barcodes needed to accommodate smaller containers.
6. Researchers Will Accelerate Their Impact
Overall, the sharing of technology will have a major impact on patients, researchers and the healthcare industry. RFID tags working together with traditional barcodes will help researchers develop critical drugs faster and improve diagnostic test accuracy.
How Will Barcode Technology Change Overall?
RFID technology will affect everyone, inside and outside of the healthcare industry, in a more global future as it grows increasingly common in all industries.
Everyday objects will be able to hold a certain amount of intelligence, reveal their history and status, and communicate with each other and different systems.
The Internet of Things is a network embedded with RFID technology that will enable trucks to “talk” with traffic lights, your refrigerator to “talk” to the supermarket, and other objects and systems to interact.
For example, emergency crews at the scene of an accident will be able to receive alerts on special medical needs and establish real-time availability of hospital beds and equipment through the Internet of Things.
With the growing versatility barcode and RFID technologies offer, it’s important to make sure you implement solutions that match your strategic goals. The right label solutions provider will work in partnership with your team to ensure you’re adding value both at the foundation of your organisation and up through your specific processes.
If you’re considering introducing RFID to your barcoding strategy and have any questions, we’re happy to help! Just give us a call!