Radio frequency identification (RFID) might soon be available for homeowners, offering them greater convenience in their everyday life as well as protecting them from unexpected costs and damages.
Author: Marcela De Vivo
Today, RFID tags are being used for a variety of applications.
While RFID technology is becoming more and more popular in the
retail industry, one of the biggest benefits of RFID technology
that is less talked about is in-home use. In fact, houses equipped
with RFID technology may be beneficial for many interest groups;
including builders, building inspectors, house insurance companies,
service providers and homeowners.
RFID CREATES BETTER AND SAFER HOMES
From RFID front door keys, washing machines and refrigerators,
to keeping track of when the plumbing needs to be fixed. RFID
technology will be a part of the homes of the future making sure
that your life is easy and convenient, but also that your house is
built right and taken care of and disposed of properly.
1) Building homes with RFID-tagged
Even as a house is being built sensor tagged building materials
could be used to ensure correct building and avoid human errors.
Sensor tags incorporated in the building materials could alert
house builders about the material's origin and how they have been
treated during the supply chain, as well as inform the builders if
they are being used in an incorrect manner. Whatever happens to the
tag, stays in the tag's memory, thus, homeowners will be able to
find out if the concrete floor wasn't given enough time to dry
because of a tight schedule, resulting in a moist floor.
Building inspectors in charge of ensuring that buildings are
safe as well as issuing building or renovation permits can be
informed of the presence and condition of building materials and
construction solutions that are not visible to the naked eye. It is
possible that building inspectors and insurance companies will
demand some RFID tags (in critical building materials,
constructions and machines) in the future. Ultimately this saves
money and time for everyone, as well as reduces the risks of owning
2) RFID could make repair and maintenance
RFID technology can be used inside homes to provide information
about all types of standard concerns. For example, RFID sensor tags
could be placed inside a home to measure humidity, temperature, air
circulation etc. in places where these could be a concern. By
having the tags scanned regularly by a property caretaker,
maintenance or repair personnel, homeowners could be notified of
and fix the problem before it becomes costly. Parts that need
maintenance in certain intervals could inform the RFID reader when
it needs to be replaced or cleaned the next time.
Sensor and alert systems, per se, do not necessarily need RFID
technology to work. A sensor with a transmitter connected to a
back-end system could basically do the same (much like in a car).
But, the benefits of using RFID for this are:
- Repair and maintenance personnel are already equipping
themselves with RFID readers that they bring along on the
- Smart houses will demand a large amount of tags and sensors.
Sensor tags cost less and have a smaller footprint than traditional
sensors with transmitters
- Passive tags are not depending on batteries
- No cable wiring to the tags is required
- Future homes might be equipped with mobile and/or fixed RFID
readers for other comfort and convenience purposes. Mobile smart
phones will shortly all be equipped with NFC. In some cases
combination tags (NFC and UHF RFID) could be used to enable reading
with both smart phones and UHF RFID readers.
Providing that future homeowners are equipped with mobile and/or
fixed RFID readers, RFID technology could be taken a step even
further and also be implemented to give alerts in real-time when
something happens. It could inform homeowners about how to perform
certain renovations or quick fixes when the need arises. The
information on the tags could include everything from how to
actually perform simple repairs to how to stay true to the original
style of the home. With RFID tags basic maintenance issues, like
changing a slowly leaking pipe in the kitchen, could become an
easier task as a sensor tag could actually catch the problem, give
an alert and explain to the homeowner how to fix them and whether
they should consult an expert.
For homeowners, that means a reduced risk of serious repairs
being needed, since the RFID tags will help notify the owner of a
brewing problem. It should be emphasised, though, that we need to
look far into the future before we see RFID applications, where
house owners are scanning their own houses in this purpose.
3) Comfort and everyday living with
Homes with in-built RFID technology in the construction can be
beneficial for homeowners, but the household machines can also be
equipped with RFID technology. Items like smart refrigerators,
washing machines, laundry baskets, smoke detectors and even coffee makers, that
tell you how to brew the ideal cup of coffee, thanks to a tag on
the coffee package, can make life easier and more convenient for
RFID readers can be placed in washing machines making them able
to read the care label instructions on the tags of the garments
inside. The washing machine then calculates the optimal washing
conditions, based on what types of clothes are put into the
When equipped with an RFID reader, smart refrigerators can read
and report its content to the owner. So, you will not have to check
physically what items are in the fridge before you begin planning a
meal or what to get at the grocery store. When you are out and
about, this technology can send you reminders to pick up certain
grocery items via text messages or emails.
While the possibility of this type of use of RFID technology is
very real, few companies are using it as of 2013. However, this
might be the way of the future, and some grocery producers and
retailers are testing RFID technology as we speak.
4) House demolition in a safe, ecological
and economical way
RFID tags can be beneficial for homeowners making repairs and
for service providers doing renovation work, but they may be just
as helpful when it comes to demolishing a house when it is beyond
repair. Homes equipped with RFID tags will be able to show
demolition crews how to tear down a house properly piece by piece,
allowing for optimal safety.
Homes equipped with RFID tags can also be torn down in an environmentally-friendly fashion, and the tags
can even be used to inform builders what parts of the home are
recyclable or sellable and which ones are not, as well as how and
where to get rid of them.
MAKING RFID MORE EASILY ATTAINABLE
While RFID technology may not be standard in homes yet, it could
very well be the wave of the future, since it could make home
maintenance more affordable and household machinery more
user-friendly. But we do need more research and practise, before
this becomes reality in full-scale.
RFID-enabled household machines might not be as far off in the
future as RFID-tagged construction materials, but it will take
time. First garments, grocery items etc. need to be tagged so that
the washing machines, coffee makers, toasters, laundry baskets and
the refrigerators have tags to read. But, until then, let's keep
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer
from California, whose writing covers a range of industries,
including home improvement, DIY and home security. As a business owner, not only does she believe RFID
technology would be great for homes, but possibly for businesses
who are looking to renovate.