data accuracy.The label is then fed forward for printing.With most printers, an error
message prints over the label if the tag does not read or its data does not verify, thus
voiding the label's use.Tags are made from flexible material that does not damage the
The encoding and verification processes, which may take milliseconds to several sec-
onds depending on the amount of RFID data and the type of tag, makes smart label
throughput somewhat slower than barcoding.
R F I D Te c h n o l o g y a n d t h e H e r i t a g e S e c t o r
It is not surprising that, within the cultural heritage sector, libraries are the organisa-
tions that have most widely and readily adopted RFID technology so far. Libraries have
the most pressing need to organise and safeguard large numbers of moveable objects, and
barcode technology is utilised in libraries more than anywhere else in the sector.The
applicability of RFID technology in the library environment is not difficult to see; what
may be less obvious are the potential uses of the technology in other types of institution.
RFID technology has already been employed to impressive effect in a number of dif-
ferent sizes and types of organisation, including museums and visitor centres.The case
studies and scenarios that follow should give a reasonable picture of the current state of
play, as well as an indication of how the technology may affect different areas of the sec-
tor in years to come.
As unit costs continue to fall and the labels themselves become physically smaller,
future applications of this technology may be only as limited as people's imaginations.
Case Study I NetWorld Exhibit, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago IL
Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is the oldest institution of its
kind in the Western Hemisphere, and the seventh most popular museum in the United
States of America.The MSI attracts around two million visitors each year, approximately
20% of whom are children from school groups and other youth organisations.
The museum's planning team wanted to introduce a new, permanent exhibit, attractive
to children and adults alike, which offered a hands-on guide to the Internet and an
explanation of some of the fundamental technologies that lie behind it. Core learning
objectives included demonstrations of the digitisation process, bit streams, and the con-
cept of networks. Interactivity was felt to be an essential component of any successful
and Smart Tags
This case study is based upon a telephone interview with Dr Barry Aprison, Director of Science and
Technology at the museum.The interview took place on 05/11/2002.