Auburn is at the forefront of RFID, a technology that’s changed how we live and work

Posted On November 13, 2022

Do you ever think about the technology behind hotel room key cards, or vehicle key fobs, or the wristbands you use to get into Disney World?

Probably not. You use them, they work, and you go on about your day.

Our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston” thinks about it a lot. Justin Patton is the Director of the RFID Lab at the Harbert College of Business at Auburn University. For the last 17 years, he’s been at the forefront of research and developing applications for Radio Frequency Identification, which is the technology behind so many of those items that we use every day.

“RFID is literally everywhere,” Patton said. “It’s one of those invisible technologies that just kind of works and we don’t think about it much, but it’s always there.”

RFID is like a little 2D sticker or antenna that works a lot like a bar code, Patton said, except that it’s read by radio waves. This allows you to get into your room at the hotel, but not others; tracks your luggage if it gets lost at the airport; and can solve a whole host of supply chain issues. Patton says work is being done now to use RFID to create a more streamlined, efficient supply chain in the food industry.

While some may worry that technology like RFID might put people out of work, Patton says it really just allows for a more efficient operation that allows employees to focus on customers instead of spending so much time on inventory.

And along with researching new ways to use the technology, Patton says a big part of his job is preparing Auburn’s students for careers that can be built through implementing RFID in the workplace.

“Auburn’s role is to be an advocate; to educate people on how it works; to do a lot of research into how to solve problems, particularly for people who are having big supply-chain issues; and most importantly, to crank out the students who are going to go work in the industry,” Patton said. “We want to be the place to go to get students who know exactly how it works.”

Categories: Blog, Podcast, What's Working with Cam Marston, Workplace