1.1 Historical Introduction
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) traces its beginnings back to World War II. With
the invention of radar in 1935, it was now possible for forces on both sides of the war to
see inbound planes, but there was no way to tell what side they were on . The
Germans learned if they rolled their planes than their radar signature would change. This
change in radar signature would show the German radar operators that the inbound planes
were friendly . This is considered to be the first type of RFID system.
The next big step in RFID technology came in 1973 when the first patent was issued for
an active RFID tag in the US . Also that year, Charles Walton patented a passive
RFID door lock and later licensed this technology to Schlage . Walton’s invention was
practical, but it was not widely adopted at the time because of the expense of individual
RFID technology received a boost in 1990 when several toll collection agencies in the
northeastern US formed an Interagency Group called E-Z Pass . The goal of E-Z Pass
was to implement a new device that would collect tolls at highway speeds. The best
method for this new device was to distribute an RFID tag for each vehicle and link each
tag to the billing address registered with E-Z Pass . Systems like E-Z Pass are used
throughout the world today. A Similar technology is also used for public railway
RFID technology has been receiving unfavorable press lately with the introduction of the
VeriChip implantable RFID tag . Many argue that the implantable chip is just another
way for “Big Brother” to keep tabs on everyone. VeriChip disagrees with them saying
that this chip could save lives by instantly pulling up hospital records when a patient with
the implanted chip is brought past a reader . These chips are also used in Legoland in
Denmark and in up scale nightclubs around the world .
RFID technology is used everyday by many people, whether they use Walton’s door
lock, an E-Z Pass, or a Verichip. This technology can also be used to control AC power.
This control can be used to make life in the home and workplace safer and easier.
1.2 Market and Competitive Analysis
Several single function RFID devices such as door locks, gate control, or personal
identification are available for purchase on the market, but there are no basic RFID power
switches. The RFID power controller will be a basic power switch available for a
consumer to buy. The RFID power controller has several competitive advantages over
single function RFID devices. The RFID power controller will cost, on average, $50 less
than a single function RFID device. A standard RFID door lock can be purchased for
$299.99 . The RFID power controller implemented with an electric door lock will cost
about $200. Also, while a single function RFID device requires batteries for operation,
the RFID power controller will use power from a wall outlet. A disadvantage that the
RFID power controller has, compared to a single function RFID device, is the added
installation required by the user. A detailed instruction manual will be provided to
compensate for the extra installation required.
For an industry to operate safely, it must follow OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health
Administration) regulations. According to OSHA Standard 29 part 1910.147(a) (3) (i), a
lockout or tagout must be applied to equipment that is to be de-energized . Although
this method has been reliable, it wastes time to get every repair worker to lockout the
equipment. If an RFID power controller was implemented into the equipment, a
designated employee could become the only person in charge of energizing or de-
energizing the equipment by using their RFID tag. This would reduce the amount of time
working on a machine meaning less “downtime”.
The RFID power controller will be marketed towards the housing community and the
industrial workplace. This product will have a large number of potential buyers according
to the fact that, in 2006, there were a total of 111,617,402 housing units occupied . The
RFID power controller will also provide several functions, such as light control, door
lock access, or emergency power outlet shut-off. This characteristic will entice a
customer to purchase multiple RFID power controllers. It will also grant the customer the
freedom to choose which application they would like to implement the product as.
1.3 Concise Problem Statement
With the emergence of wireless technology, the action of flipping a switch has become an
inconvenience. The RFID power controller will control AC power wirelessly, whether it
is implemented with a light switch, an outlet, or a switched electrical cord for various
The RFID power controller will perform wireless switching using an RFID reader and a
specified RFID tag to control the AC power output by the controller. By passing a tag in
front of the reader, a signal will be sent to a microprocessor that will switch the 120 AC
power on or off. The controller can be programmed to control an outlet for safety or turn
on a light for convenience. The design will require 120 volts AC entering the controller
to be stepped down to 5 volts DC. The 5 volts DC will power the reader and the
microprocessor that stores the controlling tag’s data. The combination of the reader and
the microprocessor will be encased in a small enclosure that can be adapted to a variety
of applications ranging from household convenience to industrial safety.
1.4 Implications of Success
The RFID Power Controller can be connected to power outlets, light switches, door locks
or power tools such as grinders, electric saws, table saws, and drills. The primary use for
this controller will be to turn off dangerous devices in order to prevent children or other
people from using a device or outlet equipped with the RFID Power Controller. When
used as a power tool application, the RFID Power Controller will only turn on a device if
the user is wearing an RFID tag. Parents will be able to leave their shop or garage and
feel secure that their children will not injure themselves with dangerous tools or devices.
Devices equipped with the RFID Power Controller will also deter theft because a
designated RFID tag must be worn or the device will be inoperable. The RFID Power
Controller could become an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
requirement for all industrial power tools. If the RFID Power Controller becomes an
OSHA requirement, it could possibly capture 100% of the industrial power tool market.
The RFID Power Controller can also be installed in power outlets to help reduce the risk
of an electrical shock. With the RFID Power Controller, a user can implement a light
switch by turning on the lights when entering a room and turning off the lights when
exiting the room. All of the device applications listed above can be an implementation of
this one device. The cost of the RFID Power Controller will range between $60 and $80.
 Landt, Jeremy. “The History of RFID.” IEEE Potentials, pp.8-11, November-
December 2005. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/iel5/45/33027/01549751.pdf.
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 McHugh, Josh. “A Chip in Your Shoulder.” Slate.com. November 10, 2004.
 ThinkGeek. “RFID Digital Door Lock.” ThinkGeek. 2008.
 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“The control of hazardous energy(lockout/tagout).” U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 1996.
 U.S. Census Bureau. “Occupancy Characteristics.” U.S. Census Bureau. 2007.