More often than not, elderly people who move (or are moved) from their homes to an assisted living facility are able take little with them. Photos, books and cross stitch samplers are easy to transport and serve as some of the only physical reminders many aging individuals have of their previous collection of possessions. When you think about it, clothing is another thing most people take with them when they are packing.

Ensuring that a nursing home resident’s personal wardrobe doesn’t get mixed up in the laundry shuffle is a small kindness that can help people feel that they still have some control over their lives – that they still have some things that are theirs alone. RFID clothing tags make this a simple task.

These tiny radio frequency identification chips can be sewn into the seam of any piece of apparel.   The light color of the device makes it appear almost invisible through even white fabric. These tags are designed to withstand the high temperatures and harsh chemicals used by industrial laundry and dry cleaning facilities. Any process that requires manual sorting can now incorporate a quick pass by the RFID reader to accurately determine what the final destination of each garment should be.

Industry leader Datamar has introduced its smallest tag (called the PersonalChip) to the marketplace just this year. Since it is a high frequency device it does not have to be all that close to the scanner in order to be read. The manufacturer also provides identification chips for textile marking and for pets. has additional information on this company that is well worth a look.

How New Is This Technology And How Does It Work?

Surprisingly, RFID has been around for over 50 years. Of course, it wasn’t until miniaturization and mass manufacturing came on the scene that using these devices became feasible. Now these chips can be smaller than a grain of rice and sell (in bulk) for about a dime apiece.

Each system is made up of three components:

  • The chip (more properly called a transponder)
  • The antenna (which emits a short range radio frequency)
  • The transceiver (this decodes the data for the end user)

When an RFID transponder passes near the antenna the radio wave signal causes the chip to automatically transmit its code. This information is almost instantaneously picked up by the scanning antenna and then decoded by the transceiver. Since passive RFID tags are activated by proximity to the scanner they do not have to contain a battery. This makes them safe, durable, and exceptionally long lasting.

The chips can be read through layers of other materials so embedding them in the product being scanned is a popular option. This further protects the device from wear and tear. Unlike a barcode, RFID tags do not have to be read one at a time and large number of items can pass through the scanner at one time if necessary for a particular application.

Wal-Mart has been behind a recent push to require its vendors to tag all their products and this has some people worried. There is no cause to think that the wholesaler will be tracking that box of Cheerios to your pantry via satellite though. Even the high frequency devices only have a range of about 20 feet.