My Research Programme (2002 - Now)

Are microchip implants a more secure technology for identification and access control?


This mixed methods study with a sequential explanatory strategy explored qualitatively the statistically significant quantitative findings relative to Indian respondents' perceptions about RFID (radio frequency identification) transponders implanted into the human body. In the first analysis phase of the study, there was a significant chi-square analysis reported (χ2 = 56.64, df = 3, p = .000) relative to the perception of small business owners (N = 453) that implanted chips are a more secure form of identification and/or access control in organizations and the respondents' country of residence. Countries under study included Australia, India, the UK and US. The country contributing most to this significant relationship was India. Additionally, frequency data comparing the relationship of the respondents' generation and perceptions of implants as a more secure technology (yes - no) was examined. The significant chi-square (χ2 = 29.11, df = 2, p = .000) analysis indicated that there was a very significant relationship between the respondents' opinions and such generations as Baby Boomers (those born 1946 - 1965), Generation X (those born 1966-1980) and Generation Y (those born 1981-2000). The second analysis phase of the study explored qualitative data gleaned from open-ended questions asking Indian Millennials (born 1981-2000) about their feelings about being implanted with a chip. Over one third of the world's population is considered part of the Millennial generation. Of India's 1.2 billion people, approximately half are under the age of 25; that is, over 250 million are categorized as Millennials. Based on the quantitative and qualitative findings, researchers in this study concluded that three factors affect perceptions of RFID implants. One key factor is that Indian Millennials appear to describe more feelings of positivity and neutrality when compared with the two prior generations.


The purpose of this study was to explore and interpret qualitatively the statistically significant quantitative findings relative to Indian respondents' perceptions about RFID (radio frequency identification) transponders implanted into the human body for identification and access control purposes in organizations. RFID implants are defined as an omnipresent electronic surveillance, which utilize technology that makes it possible to implant devices into the human body to track the who, what, where, when, and how of human life [1]. The tiny RFID chip which can be implanted in the body is smaller than the size of a grain of rice. In the first phase of analysis, there was a very significant chi-square analysis  reported relative to the perception that surgically implanted chips are a more secure form of identification and/or access control and the respondents' country of residence. In the first phase, participants included small business owners  within four countries including the UK , the USA , Australia , and India . The country contributing most to this significant relationship was India. In rank order, the countries contributing to this significant relationship were India, the UK, and the USA; no such differences in opinion were found for respondents from Australia. The second phase of the study explored qualitative data relative to surgically implanted chips reported by a subsection of the aforementioned small business owners; data reported by those Indian small business owners categorized as Millennials  was analyzed, as well as data reported by Indian students  categorized as Millennials (born 1980–2000) and currently enrolled in a college or university.

The methodology of this study took into account an initial analysis of quantitative findings of a survey exploring if small business owners perceived RFID chip implants in humans as a more secure technology for employee identification. The researchers intended to investigate if country of residence and/or generation (i.e. a cohort of individuals who were born in the same date range and share similar cultural experience) may affect perceptions of RFID implants in humans. Quantitative analysis revealed more Indian small business owners than expected perceived chip implants as a more secure technology. Indian participants, therefore, became an increased focus to further investigate why this segment of the participants reported more openness to implants than expected. Additional quantitative analysis exploring perceptions about this emerging technology by generation revealed more Millennials than expected perceived implants as more secure technology and conversely, less than expected Baby Boomers. Millennials, therefore, became a increased focus to further investigate why this segment of the participants reported more openness to implants than expected. Therefore, to bring meaning to the quantitative findings and further explore openness, the researchers then began qualitative exploration of data from the same survey to investigate how Indian participants, and Millennials, in general, answered when asked how he/she “personally feel(s) about being implanted for ease of identification with your own organization” when contrasted against the comments of non-Indian and/or non-Millennials. Then, to further expand upon qualitative findings about openness to implants from the aforementioned survey, the researchers are in the process of conducting subsequent research of Indian Millennials who are enrolled in graduate studies, but not necessarily small business owners. These qualitative themes were taken into account for the conclusions as reported in this paper.

The authors present a brief review of the literature, key findings from the sequential study, and a discussion on possible implications of the findings. Professionals working in the field of emerging technologies could use these findings to better understand how such demographics as country of residence, as well as such psychographics as generational factors, may affect perceptions of chip implants for identification and access control purposes in organizations.

SECTION II. Review of Literature

A. Implants & Social Acceptance

RFID implants, also known as Uberveillance, are defined as an omnipresent electronic surveillance, which utilize technology that makes it possible to implant devices into the human body to track the who, what, where, when, and how of human life [1]. In 2004, the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) of the United States approved an implantable chip for use in humans in the U.S. The tiny RFID chip, which can be implanted in the body, is smaller than the size of a grain of rice. The implanted chip is being marketed as a potential method to detect and treat diseases, as well as a potential lifesaving device. If a person was brought to an emergency room unconscious, a scanner in the hospital doorway could read the person's unique ID on the implanted chip. The ID would then be used to unlock the medical records of the patient from a database. Authorized health professionals would then have access to all pertinent medical information of that individual (i.e. medical history, previous surgeries, allergies, heart condition, blood type, diabetes, etc.) to care for the patient aptly.

Recent technological developments are reaching new levels with the integration of silicon and biology; implanted devices can now interact directly with the brain [2]. Implantable devices for medical purposes are often believed highly beneficial to restore functions that were lost. Such current medical implants include cardiovascular pacers, cochlear and brainstem implants for patients with hearing disorders, implantable drug delivery pumps, implantable neurostimulation devices for such patients as those with urinary incontinence, chronic pain, or epilepsy, deep brain stimulation for patients with Parkinson's, and artificial chip-controlled legs [3].

Social concerns plague this technology [4]. In the United States, many states are crafting legislation to balance the potential benefits of RFID technology with the disadvantages associated with privacy and security concerns. California, Georgia, Missouri, North Dakota, and Wisconsin are among states in the U.S. which have passed legislation to prohibit forced implantation of RFID in humans [5]. The “Microchip Consent Act of 2010”, which became effective on July 1, 2010 in the state of Georgia, not only stated that no person shall be required to be implanted with a microchip (regardless of a state of emergency), but also that voluntary implantation of any microchip may only be performed by a physician under the authority of the Georgia Composite Medical Board [6].

Through the work of Rodata and Capurro (2005), the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission, which examines ethical questions arising from science and new technologies, issued an opinion in 2005, primarily to raise awareness and dialogue concerning the dilemmas created by both medical and non-medical implants in humans which affect the intimate relation between bodily and psychic functions basic to our personal identity. The opinion stated that implants (referred to as ICT implants or Information & Communications Technology implants), should not be used to manipulate mental functions or to change a personal identity. Additionally, the opinion stated that principles of data protection must be applied to protect personal data embedded in implants. The implants were identified in the opinion as a threat to human dignity when used for surveillance purposes, although the opinion stated that this might be justifiable for security and/or safety reasons [7].

Researchers continue to investigate social acceptance of the implantation of this technology into human bodies. In 2006, Perakslis and Wolk reported higher levels of acceptance of the implantation of a chip within their bodies, when college students perceived benefits from this technology [8]. A 2010 survey by BITKOM, a German information technology industry lobby group, reported 23% of 1000 respondents would be prepared to have a chip inserted under their skin for certain benefits; 72% of respondents, however, reported they would not allow implantation of a chip under any circumstances. Sixteen percent (16%) of respondents reported they would accept an implant to allow emergency services to rescue them more quickly in the event of a fire or accident [9].

B. Shifts with Millennials: From Unwillingness toward Neutrality to Implant

Utilizing questions posed by researchers in 2005 to college students attending both private and public institutions of higher education, researchers once again investigated levels of willingness to implant RFID chips to understand if there were shifts in levels of willingness of college students to implant RFID chips for various reasons [8] [10]In both studies, students were asked: “How willing would you be to implant an RFID chip in your body as a method. (to reduce identity theft, as a potential lifesaving device, to increase national security)?” A 5-point Likert-type scale was utilized varying from “Strongly Unwilling” to “Strongly Willing”. Comparisons of the 2005 results of the study to the results of the 2010 research revealed shifts from unwillingness toward either neutrality or willingness to implant a chip in the human body to reduce identity theft, as a potential lifesaving device, and to increase national security. Levels of unwillingness decreased for all aforementioned areas as follows [10].

Between 2005 and 2010, the unwillingness (“Strongly unwilling” and “Somewhat unwilling”) of college students to implant an RFID chip into their bodies decreased by 22.4% (from 55% strongly & somewhat unwilling in 2005 to 32.6% strongly and somewhat unwilling in 2010) when considering RFID implants as method to reduce identity theft, decreased by 19.9% when considering RFID implants as a potential lifesaving device (from 42% strongly & somewhat unwilling in 2005 to 22.1% in 2010), and decreased by 16.3% (from 50% strongly and somewhat unwilling in 2005 to 33.7% in 2010) when considering RFID implants to increase national security [10].

C. Shifts with Millennials: More Willingness to Implant

Between 2005 and 2010, researchers reported that levels of willingness increased for all areas under study. The willingness (“strongly willing” and “somewhat willing”) of college students to implant an RFID chip into their bodies increased by 9.2% when considering RFID implants as method to reduce identity theft, increased 24.4% when considering RFID implants as a potential lifesaving device, and increased 10.1% when considering RFID implants to increase national security. Researchers (Perakslis, 2010) reported the most dramatic shift in willingness with college students appeared to be relative to implanting RFID chips for use as a potential lifesaving device. The willingness of college students in 2010 increased by 24.4%, shifting from less unwillingness (−19.9%), and less neutrality as well (−4.5%) [8] [9].

D. Shifts with Millennials: More Neutral/No Opinion

In the same study (Perakslis, 2010), there was a 13.2% increase of participants categorized as Millennials reporting “neutral/no opinion” about willingness to implant a chip to reduce identity theft, and a 6.2% increase relative to willingness to implant a chip to increase national security. Conversely, when asked about willingness to implant a chip as a potential lifesaving device, 6.2% fewer participants reported “neutral/no opinion” in 2010 when compared to 2005 [8] [10].

E. Millennials

Millennials, are also known as Generation Y, Gen-Yers, Echo Boomers, Generation Next, or the Net Generation [14]. This segment of the population is defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as those born between 1981 and 2000 [11], and they are the cohort following Generation X (born between 1966–1980), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946–1964) [11]. Over one third of the population of the world is categorized as part of the Millennial generation; there are more Millennials in India than the total populations of Germany, Spain, France, and the U.K. combined [12]. This generation is immersed in technology; 74% of Millennials polled, in a multicountry internet study  reported they are skilled to “handle whatever technology encountered” [12]. Technology need not be for utilitarian purposes; these individuals view technology as central to their way of life (32%) and use technology to express themselves creatively (36%). One of the most significant aspect of the life of a Millennial is to be diverse and accepting [12]. Speed and access are keys to engage these individuals; they are accustomed to having gadgets that allow them to be the always-connected generation [13]. Researchers report that 74% of those polled in this generation, reported it is important for them to be perceived as “someone who is accepting of people from other cultures”. Indian Millenials are believed to share similar traits to their counterparts across the world however, when compared with western peers Indian Millennials identify more strongly with their parents, traditions, and culture [12]. Howe and Strauss (2000) purported that this generation can be defined by seven core traits and they are: special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, and achieving. The life mission of this generation is reported to be to build up new institutions rather than tear down old institutions that do not work [14].

F. Shifts in India

Due to heightened security threats, there is a surge in demand for security in India [15] [16]. A progression of mass-casualty assaults that have been carried out by extremist Pakistani nationals against hotels and government buildings in India has brought more awareness to the potential threats against less secure establishments [16]. The government is working to institute security measures at the individual level with a form of national ID cards that will house key biometric data of the individual [17]. In the local and regional settings, technological infrastructure is developing rapidly in metro and non-metro areas because of the increase of MNCs (multi-national corporations) now locating in India. Although the neighborhood chowkiddaaar (human watchman/guard) was previously a more popular security measure for localized security, advances in, and reliability and availability of, security technology is believed to be affecting the adoption of electronic access security as a replacement to the more traditional security measures [15] [16].

SECTION III. Methodology

This study used a mixed-methods design with a sequential explanatory strategy. The initial quantitative phase informed the qualitative phase; qualitative research was used to examine surprising quantitative results in more detail [18]. The first phase included participants who are small business owners  within four countries including the UK, the USA, Australia, and India. Chi-square analysis was conducted in this study to examine if there was a relationship between the perception that surgically implanted chips are a more secure technology, and the respondents' country of residence. Additionally, Chi-square analysis was conducted to examine if there was a significant relationship between the respondents' generations. Generations were defined as Millenials (1981–2000), Generation X (1965–1980) and Baby Boomers (1946–1964).

The second phase included analysis of qualitative data obtained through the aforementioned survey asking participants “How would you personally feel about being implanted for ease of identification with your own organization?” as well as a subsequent survey administered to Indian Millennial students who are enrolled in gradaute school, but not necessarily small business owners. The collection and analysis of data gleaned from the open-ended questions administered electronic surveys explored the perspective of Indians as well as Millennials relative to surgically implantable RFID transponders when compared to those participants who were non-Indian and/or non-Millennials. Participants included both Indian small business owners categorized as Millennials  and purposefully selected Indian students who were also Millennials and currently enrolled in a college or university .

SECTION IV. Findings

In the first phase of the study, the frequency data that compared the relationship of the country in which the respondent lives was examined as shown in Table 1. The country or residence was explored relative to perceptions of surgically implanted transponders beneath the skin of an employee as a more secure technology for employee identification (yes - no). The significant chi-square  indicated that there was a relationship between the respondents' opinions and their country. Using the rule of identifying adjusted residuals greater than 2.0 [19], examination of the adjusted residuals indicated that the relationship was mostly created when more residents from India responded “yes” than expected (46 vs. 19.8; adjusted residual = 7.5). In addition, fewer residents from the UK responded “yes” than expected (9 vs. 19.8), and fewer residents from the USA responded “yes” than expected (11 vs. 20.9). Thus, the researchers concluded that there was a relationship between the perception that surgically implanted chips are a more secure technology for instituting employee identification and the respondents' country. In rank order, the countries contributing to this significant relationship were India, the UK and the USA; no such differences in opinion were found for respondents from Australia.

Table 1

Table 1

Additionally in the first phase of the study, the frequency data that compared the relationship of the generation to which the respondent belongs and support of surgically implanted transponders beneath the skin of an employee as a more secure technology for employee identification (yes - no) was examined as shown in Table 2. The significant chi-square () indicated that there was a relationship between the respondents' opinions and the generation of Baby Boomers, Generation X, or Generation Y, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using the rule of identifying adjusted residuals greater than 2.0 [19], examination of the adjusted residuals indicated that the relationship was mostly created when fewer participants categorized as Baby Boomers responded “yes” than expected (16 vs. 35; adjusted residual = 4.7). In addition, more participants categorized as Millennials responded “yes” than expected (31 vs. 16.5). Thus, the researchers concluded that there was a relationship between the perception that surgically implanted chips are a more secure technology for instituting employee identification and the respondents' generation. In rank order, the generations contributing to this significant relationship were Baby Boomers, and then the Millennials; no such differences in opinion were found for respondents who are categorized as Generation X.

Table 2

Table 2

In the second phase of the study, data from two surveys were gleaned. Data from the first questionnaire that was administered to small business owners was collected concurrently during the quantitative phase. A second questionnaire with open-ended questions was then subsequently administered to Indian Millennial students enrolled in colleges or universities. These findings allowed the researchers to better understand the meaning attached by Indian Millennials when they considered being chipped personally. Participants were asked “How would you personally feel about being implanted for ease of identification with your own organization?” Data was analyzed and four major themes emerged: 1) positive perceptions of being chipped relative to innovation, 2) positive perceptions of being chipped corresponding to security, 3) ambivalence when considering chip implants; and 4) openness to being chipped.

Compared to qualitative data from other generations, few of the Indian Millennial participants expressed negative comments and those participants who did express unwillingness did so in a mild manner. These comments included, “It will be easy, but I don't prefer (RFID implants)” and “I won't agree to it”.

When considering the theme of positive perceptions relating to innovation, one Indian Millennial participant stated, “It is good to use a new technology” and another stated, “It is a new concept, but I like the concept”. One participant succinctly stated implants are a “good innovation.”

When considering the theme of RFID implants perceived as positive and corresponding to security, participants' comments included, “It is very secure and is very useful in our organization” and “(I would) feel secure”. Some participants attached the feelings of security to specific aspects of an organization with comments such as “…it would make me feel secure about my work and position” and “This creates security regards [sic] to business”.

When considering the theme of ambivalence, Indian Millennial participants expressed a concurrent mix of positive and negative sentiments with such comments as “It is very useful, but at the same time it is also risky” and “It is good, but the need for such high security measures is something unnecessary…” Neutrality was evident when Millennials reported, “I don't know (how I feel about being chipped).” And such comments as: “(I) don't care” or “I do not feel anything (for this technology)…”

When considering the theme of openness of Indian Millennials to personally being chipped, Millennials said, “Not yet, (will) think about it” and “I'm open to the idea of getting an implant.” One respondent wrote, “never opted for the idea, but surely would like to try it.” Additionally, another participant shared “I don't think I have a problem with implantation” and another succinctly noted “Cool”.

SECTION V. Discussion

More than expected, Indian participants overall, perceived implants as a more secure technology for identification/access control in this study. Also, more than expected, participants categorized as part of the Millennial generation (born 1981–2000) overall, perceived implants as a more secure technology for identification/access control; conversely, fewer Baby Boomers than expected perceived implants as a more secure technology for identification/access control. This created the impetus for the researchers to explore how Indian participants who are categorized as Millennials would describe their feelings when considering getting an RFID implant.

When using data from open ended questions to bring meaning to the quantitative findings, Indian Millennials frequently expressed and/or attached positive or neutral meanings when describing how they feel about this emerging technology. This is in line with previous research (Perakslis, 2010) that investigated changes between 2005 and 2010 in levels of willingness to adopt an implant. The longitudinal research showed that in 2010, Millennials reported neutrality of opinion (“no opinion/neutral”) 13.2% more (from 11% of participants reporting neutral opinions in 2005 to 24.2% in 2010) when asked about willingness to implant a chip to reduce identity theft and 6.2% more (from 18% of participants reporting neutral opinions in 2005 to 24.2% in 2010) when asked about willingness to implant a chip to increase national security when compared to findings in 2005. Surprisingly, these participants were the only generation to convey noteworthy expressions of neutrality when compared with participants belonging to Generation X and/or Baby Boomers.

Thus, the researchers conclude three factors may affect perceptions about RFID implants as a more secure technology for identification and access control purposes. These are: 1) one's country of residence may inform perceptions, 2) generational factors may affect one's perception; and 3) participants whose country of residence was India and who are also categorized as Millennials describe more positive feelings generally, less negative feelings overall, and more neutral feelings about this technology when compared with the two prior generations.

SECTION VI. Conclusion

In conclusion, the researchers purport that such demographics as country of residence, as well as such psychographics as generational factors appear to affect perceptions of chip implants for identification and access control purposes in organizations. One limitation to this study could have been the psychographics of the participants; small business owners are often believed to be risk-takers and may exhibit more openness [20]. A second limitation to this study may be related to the timing of the data collection; there was a heightened awareness in India to security threats. A third limitation to this study may be related to religious beliefs; the researchers did not control for religious beliefs of participants in this study.


The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research for the electronic survey that was deployed to four countries. In addition, we recognize the contributions of Dr. Felice Billups, Dr. Robert Gable, both of Johnson & Wales University, Dr. Michael Michael, formerly of the University of Wollongong, and the late Dr. Robert Wolk, formerly of Bridgewater State University, who was a long-time IEEE_SSIT member and coauthored one of the first published surveys on microchip implants in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine in 2006. This study is done, in large part, to fulfill Dr. Wolk's wishes to continue to investigate the social implications of such emerging technologies.

IEEE Keywords: Implants, Sociology, Radiofrequency identification, Educational institutions, Business, Access control, transponders, authorisation, biomedical electronics, microprocessor chips, organisational aspects,radiofrequency identification, statistical analysis, RFID implants, Indian millennials, microchip implants, secure technology, access control, sequential explanatory strategy, quantitative findings, Indian respondents perceptions, RFID transponders, radio frequency identification transponders, chi-square analysis, small business owners, organizations,frequency data, millennial generation, employee identification, RFID, radio frequency identification, microchips, surgically implanted chips,India, surveillance, access control

Citation: Christine Perakslis, Katina Michael, 2012, "Indian Millennials: Are microchip implants a more secure technology for identification and access control?", 2012 IEEE Conference on Technology and Society in Asia (T&SA), 27-29 Oct. 2012, DOI: 10.1109/TSAsia.2012.6397977

Heaven and Hell: Visions for Pervasive Adaptation


With everyday objects becoming increasingly smart and the “info-sphere” being enriched with nano-sensors and networked to computationally-enabled devices and services, the way we interact with our environment has changed significantly, and will continue to change rapidly in the next few years. Being user-centric, novel systems will tune their behaviour to individuals, taking into account users’ personal characteristics and preferences. But having a pervasive adaptive environment that understands and supports us “behaving naturally” with all its tempting charm and usability, may also bring latent risks, as we seamlessly give up our privacy (and also personal control) to a pervasive world of business-oriented goals of which we simply may be unaware.

1. Visions of pervasive adaptive technologies

This session considered some implications for the future, inviting participants to evaluate alternative utopian/dystopian visions of pervasive adaptive technologies. It was designed to appeal to anyone interested in the personal, social, economic and political impacts of pervasive, ubiquitous and adaptive computing.

The session was sponsored by projects from the FET Proactive Initiative on Pervasive Adaptation (PerAda), which targets technologies and design methodologies for pervasive information and communication systems capable of autonomously adapting in dynamic environments. The session was based on themes from the PerAda book entitled “This Pervasive Day”, to be published in 2011 by Imperial College Press, which includes several authors from the PerAda projects, who are technology experts in artificial intelligence, adaptive systems, ambient environments, and pervasive computing. The book offers visions of “user heaven” and “user hell”, describing technological benefits and useful applications of pervasive adaptation, but also potential threats of technology. For example, positive advances in sensor networks, affective computing and the ability to improve user-behaviour modeling using predictive analytics could be offset by results that ensure that neither our behaviour, nor our preferences, nor even our feelings will be exempt from being sensed, digitised, stored, shared, and even sold. Other potentially undesirable outcomes to privacy, basic freedoms (of expression, representation, demonstration etc.), and even human rights could emerge.

One of the major challenges, therefore, is how to improve pervasive technology (still in its immature phase) in order to optimise benefits and reduce the risks of negative effects. Increasingly FET research projects are asked to focus on the social and economic impacts of science and technology, and this session aimed to engage scientists in wider issues, and consider some of the less attractive effects as well as the benefits from pervasive adaptation. Future and emerging technology research should focus on the social and economic impacts of practical applications. The prospect of intelligent services increasingly usurping user preferences as well as a certain measure of human control creates challenges across a wide range of fields.

2. Format

The networking session took the form of a live debate, primed by several short “starter” talks by “This Pervasive Day” authors who each outlined “heaven and hell” scenarios. The session was chaired by Ben Paechter, Edinburgh Napier University, and coordinator of the PerAda coordination action. The other speakers were as follows:

Pervasive Adaptation and Design Contractualism.

Jeremy Pitt, Imperial College London, UK, editor of “This Pervasive Day”.

This presentation described some of the new channels, applications and affordances for pervasive computing and stressed the need to revisit the user-centric viewpoint of the domain of Human-Computer Interaction. In dealing with the issues of security and trust in such complex systems, capable of widespread data gathering and storage, Pitt suggested that there is a requirement for Design Contractualism, where the designer makes moral and ethical judgments and encodes them in the system. No privacy or security model is of any value if the system developers will not respect the implicit social contract on which the model depends.

Micro-chipping People, The Risk vs Reward Debate

Katina Michael, University of Wollongong, Australia

Michael discussed the rise of RFID chip implantation in people as a surveillance mechanism, making comparisons with the CCTV cameras that are becoming commonplace in streets and buildings worldwide. These devices are heralding in an age of “Uberveillance”, she claims, with corporations, governments and individuals being increasingly tempted to read and record the biometric and locative data of other individuals. This constant tracking of location and monitoring of physical condition raises serious questions concerning security and privacy that researchers will have to face in the near future.

Who is more adaptive: the technology or ourselves?

Nikola Serbedzija, Fraunhofer FIRST, Germany

Serbedzija discussed how today's widespread information technologies may be affecting how we are as humans. We are now entering a world where information is replacing materiality, and where control over our individual data allows us to construct ourselves as we wish to be seen by others. Serbedzija then presented examples of research into ethically critical systems, including a reflective approach to designing empathetic systems that use our personal, physical data to assist us in our activities, for example as vehicle co-driving situations.

3. Conclusion

Following the presentations, the discussion was opened out and panellists answered questions from conference delegates. This was augmented by the use of a “tweet wall” which was open to delegates to send comments and opinions using a Twitter account. This was displayed on screen during the discussion session.

Keywords: Pervasive adaptation, ubiquitous computing, sensor networks, affective computing, privacy, security

Citation: Ben Paechter, Jeremy Pitt, Nikola Serbedzija, Katina Michael, Jennifer Willies, Ingi Helgasona, 2011, "Heaven and Hell: Visions for Pervasive Adaptation", Procedia Computer Science: The European Future Technologies Conference and Exhibition 2011, Vol. 7, pp. 81-82, DOI:

Planetary-Scale RFID Services in an Age of Uberveillance


Radio-frequency identification (RFID) has a great number of unfulfilled prospects. Part of the problem until now has been the value proposition behind the technology-it has been marketed as a replacement technique for the barcode when the reality is that it has far greater capability than simply non-line-of-sight identification, towards decision making in strategic management and reengineered business processes. The vision of the internet of things (IOT) has not eventuated but a world in which every object you can see around you carries the possibility of being connected to the internet is still within the realm of possibility. However incremental innovations may see RFID being sold as a service (much like photocopiers are maintained today) than a suite of technologies within a system that are sold as individual or bundled packaged components. This paper outlines the vision for such a product service system, what kinds of smart applications we are likely to see in the future as a result, and the importance of data management capabilities in planetary-scale systems.

Section I.


Increasingly radio-frequency identification (RFID) will not be viewed as just another barcode-type technology. Instead it will be used in innovative ways for which it was never originally intended. While by its very nature RFID tells us “what is,” industry has focused its attention on achieving adequate read rates using this non-line-of-sight technology, rather than on the value-added “where is,” “when is,” and in “what condition.” Indeed, the value is not merely in identifying a product, but knowing where that product is, when it was last there, and in what condition it was when it was last sighted. To know the what, the where, the when, and the condition of an object or subject will one day grant the firm a type of divine omnipresent view (but not strictly speaking omniscient view) over its entire operations, an idea that has been explored by Michael and Michael and coined uberveillance [1]. With respect to the retail supply chain, for instance, uberveillance is the all pervasive ability to surveil an item or person handling an item, end-to-end, from the primary producer to the end user. The future of RFID is in managing visibility, managing velocity, and managing variability, giving organizations the kind of real-time data they (and their customers in particular) have craved for. It is the ability to be agile in decision making, responding to changes in the service economy.

Section II.


The Auto-ID Center has long touted the vision of the internet of things (IOT). Brock [2] first used the term to imply an open platform for innovation but the vision of a “smart world” today remains an unfulfilled prophecy. Some have blamed this uneventful happening on the closed, proprietary, and somewhat exclusive system designed by the Auto-ID Center, pointing to technical barriers, while others have described governance-related barriers to participation. Whatever the reason for the shortcomings, we are left with a technology with great potential but unrealized capability. The International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) interpretation of the IOT is one that is more attractive and perhaps amenable [3]; a vision where almost every object you can see around you carries the possibility of being connected to the internet. This means that your domestic appliances, your clothes, your books, and your car may one day be assigned a unique IP address, just as both computers and web pages are assigned them today, to enable digital communications. Neither the original vision of the Auto-ID Center nor the vision of the more recently established EPCglobal has addressed the interactivity that occurs between nonliving things and living things, but it seems only logical that if we hope to enact revolutionary changes to business processes that this must be the next radical transformation in our corporate, community, and personal spheres. It is what has led the Auto-ID Labsto recant on their claim to the IOT concept toward a more plausible web of things (WOT) [4].

A. Problems with RFID Adoption

Potential benefits of adopting RFID in supply chain management (SCM) are widely recognized and reported. The actual benefits are yet to be achieved in RFID implementation as compared to the mandated milestones. Three hurdles dominate the delay. They are related to high levels of acquisition cost, risk, and specialist technical skills. First, specialist technical skills are required to manage the wide variety of RFID devices and tags with different frequencies and capacities, and their software application protocol interfaces (API) under varying application environments. Second, the rapid developments in RFID technologies and their fluctuating reading reliability have caused significant risks for real-life industrial implementations. Companies are worried about obsoleteness before they adopt solutions. Companies are also very much concerned about the customizability of the solutions they purchase to their specific and unique business conditions and operations. Third, despite all efforts made so far to reduce the costs of RFID devices and tags, as well as associated middleware and other software components, there is still a perception that RFID systems are too expensive for the enterprise to invest in to gain promised benefits. This is particularly true due to the lack of best practice guidelines for deploying these components.

Section III.

RFID as a Service

Enter the ability to see every business process that happens in the world as a “service,” and even more provocatively to claim that every product that is created should be considered a “service” [5]. The future of RFID will hinge on the successful cocreation of a service between stakeholders. This notion of cocreation does not claim, for instance, merely that one stakeholder is a participant in the creation of a service, but that they are part creators of a service, that they live and breathe it as if it were their own. This is the act of continually sharing sources of knowledge interactively and intimately between what was once considered disparate members of a single (albeit meshed) chain. Although intricate dependencies between members of any chain (supply or value) have been known to exist, cocreation is about oneness of mind through the feedback mechanism. It seems this is the only way in which RFID will really prosper and will be guided by robust design principles that are all-inclusive and shared between a set of stakeholders. And perhaps nontraditionally, this stakeholder set will be composed of more than just the firm and the customer; cocreation will require representatives from private and public organizations to serve holistic requirements in order to overcome cross-functional challenges. This goes beyond the concept of coproduction which emphasized the need for a firm and a customer to work together to produce an offering. Without cocreation, it is claimed that there can be no real value [6].

This new level of complexity encountered in cocreation is underpinned by theories in design science and innovation. In order to transform, or to make changes that are considered disruptive or even radical, existing ideas are brought together in new ways to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders. When ideas do not satisfy the desires of the firms, or add meaningful value, they are scrapped or individual stakeholders forgo representation. Social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and service innovation are terms that are used synonymously in the literature to describe this kind of activity. Highly successful ventures usually involve collaboration across sectors between companies, the nonprofit sector, and government. This establishes enough of a buy-in between stakeholders who are willing to collaborate openly to minimize the risk of failure in what some would consider the ambitious creation of a new service. Such thinking is characterized by organic growth and investment in research and development, not just on keeping things stable.

Section IV.

The Product Service System

Currently, companies must take risks in investing in acquiring expensive RFID components and technical skills, whether using internal or external or joint project teams. This adoption mode may not be practical nor may it be necessary, especially to small and medium enterprise (SME). On the one hand, SMEs, individually, may not have the practical financial strengths to gain RFID benefits. On the other hand, SMEs are always associated with other SMEs or large corporations. For example, small and medium manufacturers and suppliers of automotive components may be physically located in an industrial park or region, operationally associated with their customers or business alliances. Such associations form a logical foundation for these SMEs to jointly solve problems to do with high acquisition costs, risk, and specialist technical skills. For example, they can share the specialist technical skills and middleware services, thus reducing the cost and risk. A new business model is therefore needed for RFID adoption.

The concept of the product service system (PSS) has been increasingly used as a new business model in implementing advanced technologies including RFID [7]. PSS, unlike the traditional model of focusing just on products, recognizes that services in combination with products are more likely to yield higher profits for the business. The adoption of PSS leads to significant change in the manner in which business is conducted in a value chain. The revenue of a manufacturer comes from the sale of providing product functionality while retaining the product ownership rather than from the sale of products. One of the most successful real-life examples of integrating services into products is that office users are renting photocopiers instead of buying them. The rental is charged on the utilization level (e.g., number of copies). Users are ensured to have the photocopying functionality during office hours through a guarantee of timely repairing and maintenance services from a service stakeholder in this PSS. As another example, Rolls-Royce (R-R) delivers power-by-the-hour instead of transferring ownership of the gas turbine engine to an airline company [7]. At the other end, an example of integrating products into services is that of mobile communication providers giving a free mobile phone handset to customers who sign up for a service. Another example is that internet service providers (ISPs) deploy connection facilities in hotels free of charge but share the revenue obtained from the residents' internet usage.

Following the PSS business model, the usage of automatic identification services is sold to end users while RFID solution providers retain the ownership of RFID devices, software, and networks. End users do not have to invest in acquiring RFID hardware devices that are not charged by ownership but usage. RFID manufacturers share and reduce technical risks and total costs with end users by retaining the ownership and by providing upgrades to their devices. In addition, RFID solution providers are responsible for technical support for RFID systems throughout the implementation process. Such support is shared among multiple end users, leading to further reduction in maintenance and operating costs, technical risks, and the requirement for scarce technical skills. This new business model based on the PSS concept has shown a potential in overcoming some major hurdles that have hindered the progress of RFID across industrial applications.

However, RFID products, both hardware devices and software systems, have not yet been designed and developed for suitable deployment within a PSS business model. In order to tackle this key challenge, research and development efforts have been carried out to develop RFID-enabled gateway solutions that are suitable for a PSS business model [8]. RFID gateway solutions include 1) gateway hardware, and 2) gateway services. A RFID gateway hardware hub acts as a server that hosts and connects RFID-enabled devices, called smart objects, in a standard way. The gateway hub also provides a suite of software services for managing operations and events of smart objects. A significant contribution of RFID gateway technology is to provide services that capture real-time data and convert them into useful and usable real-time information for upper level enterprise application systems.

In a PSS framework, the gateway hub is the core product around which associated software services are deployed to form a product service system. Gateway hub products can be deployed in application environments just as photocopier products are rented or deployed in office applications. Technical support and services can be centrally provided to ensure that smart objects and gateways are in proper working order. Common services for RFID device management such as definition, configuration, and execution can then be operated by a central service provider and shared among different enterprise users of RFID technology.

While the gateway technology provides a technical solution to introduce the PSS concept for RFID adoption, business issues are still open for further investigation and experimentation. The revenue model among stakeholders is unclear. For example, how RFID device manufacturers collect their revenues is not clear in the PSS framework, e.g., through equipment rentals or the number of tag interrogations. A similar challenge exists on how RFID service producers will collect their revenues, e.g., through subscription or the volume of real-time information transactions. These issues must be fully addressed before the PSS approach takes effect in real-life industrial deployment.

In a different light to PSS, but in a similar paradigmatic shift, is the movement away from middleware-based applications to cloud computing-based applications for end users. Middleware can be considered computer software that connects multiple applications together. Middleware-based RFID applications were the first generation. They were usually situated in a server, processing data emanating from “dumb” readers with little processing power to translate them into a comprehensible business event. But now, the entire data processing has shifted to edgeware and cloud computing. Edgeware-based applications, also known as edge of the network applications, are typically in mobile data collecting nodes. In the case of RFID, these are mainly readers. Larger data management by means of edgeware is becoming increasingly common due to higher processing power and higher memory capabilities in the readers. The data generated by the tags are gathered by the readers and managed by edgeware-based applications. The resulting output from the edgeware is then transported to the cloud (or a remote server sitting in the internet), where it is further processed in accordance with the end-user requirements. Cloud computing is that operational setup where information and communication technology (ICT) is consumed as a service (e.g., software, platform, and infrastructure). The future innovations in RFID are going to be in rich tags. As both readers and tags are becoming smarter, the edge is becoming smarter. Subsequent generations will have embedded information about themselves that they can selectively and intelligently communicate with other objects in their wireless neighborhood. This would essentially form what Gadh termed as the wireless “internet of artifacts” [9].

Section V.

The Vision

RFID is often seen as the enabler of a new paradigm for computing whereby users employ information services through direct interaction with natural objects and manufactured artifacts, places and, when appropriate, living entities [10]. RFID effectively implements a transparent binding of such entities in the physical world to their info-simulacrum and vice versa, and through this link creates the opportunity for new types of systems. A core ingredient for the delivery of this vision is the availability of a comprehensive universal system of automatic identification for all tagged physical entities. Such a system would implement a fully automated data capture and maintenance of contextual, usage, and other metadata at planetary scale [11].

Moreover, such a system will have to accommodate those features of modern RFID that have made possible its current functionality, namely, the fact that practically all modern widely available passive ultra-high-frequency (UHF) RFID tags have very low storage capacity and support only simple logic in order to minimize power consumption. As a consequence, building complete and useful RFID-based systems requires that the majority of processing and storage be offloaded to surrogate services on the internet [12]. Emerging consensus seems to indicate that to support RFID systems several kinds of network services would have to be provided, specifically resolution services that link unique identifiers from diverse schemes and their metadata, and repository services that maintain and publish data related to individual identifiers. Both services should be widely accessible and available across the globe to reflect the globalized movement of manufactured artifacts typical in modern commerce.

The scale and complexity of these services both in terms of geographic scope and number of stakeholders involved is unprecedented [13]. The only system sharing its properties is the internet, which also provides a model (and the underlying infrastructure) for the provision of these services. However, the specific needs of RFID are not restricted to the transfer of data only but most importantly extend to the capture, management, and publication of persistent metadata with each element of this chain, setting its particular challenges and imposing further constraints (e.g., analytical and reporting mechanisms of the captured data, with respect to business intelligence).

Although the requirement for the development of such networked services to support planetary scale RFID was identified over a decade ago [14], the depth and complexity of the challenges presented from a service and data management perspective have been fully recognized only in the last few years and are still only partially understood. In the following section, we will attempt to identify some of the main problems and identify future research directions adopting a data management approach. In particular, we identify the main challenges in resolution and repository systems when the scale of the system encompasses the whole planet. Note that there are complementary research questions related with the provision of global RFID services, for example, those relating to questions of service positioning and adaptation to energy consumption patterns and workloads. There is significant research activity in these areas especially in the context of cloud computing that would surely benefit RFID as well [15].

Section VI.

The Pressing Need for Data Management

Looking closely at RFID repositories, their role is to manage entity usage information represented as application-level event records. Such services are operated either privately by individual entity custodians or by third party service providers. Conceptually, they can be considered a particular type of loosely federated distributed database, specified through public interfaces that provide methods to record, retrieve, and modify event information.

Typically, event data are inserted in the repository by different data capture applications operating at the network edge, which would often include legacy systems. Data are consumed by a variety of applications usually located at the network core, for example, enterprise resource management, data mining, and consumer-facing applications. Conceptually, the repository services are thus rather well defined and appear to be straightforward to operate, but in practice they demand particular attention due to their very large size and potential complexity of the derivative relationships between data stored. For example, one feature that merits further consideration, as it is often the source of such complexity, is the so-called containment relationship. This technique is used to create composite entities out of constellations of individual items, which can be subsequently referenced through a single handle. These composite structures are temporally defined and support multiple levels of encapsulation. As a consequence, they may lead to considerably higher complexity of even simple queries as serials within constellations have to be traced and the respective containment relationships expanded in order to produce correct results.

The current norm is for RFID repositories to be implemented as relational databases (RDBMSs). This is of course not unreasonable as RDBMSs have been the principle paradigm in data management since the 1970s. The success of this technology has been partly due to its “one-size-fits-all” approach that is, employing a single code base for all application domains. This has proven to be a very cost-effective solution and has enabled the use of advanced data management techniques across a variety of application areas using the same small number of systems. But when used for RFID service provision, RDBMSs may incur a very high implementation cost without offering a correspondingly high performance advantage.

RFID repositories share many common features with stream-based systems, which combine real-time and persistent data, and data warehousing, where compression and column orientation play a critical role on performance. This has forced relational databases to their limit and still represents a considerable challenge. Recent work provides evidence that specialized software can achieve a 10- to 50-fold improvement in many of these cases [16] and we seek to achieve similar performance in this case. We anticipate that the design and development of domain-specific data store engines for the main services can become a critical element in attempting to lower the barrier of entry to planetary scale RFID for a variety of medium and smaller scale organizations and for individuals. Furthermore, making these implementations open could facilitate their adoption akin to the way Berkeley internet domain name (BIND) has facilitated the adoption of domain name system (DNS) on the internet.

RFID resolution is typically achieved by maintaining a record of the complete sequence of successive custodians of a particular entity and associated metadata, from the time of initial tagging and until its expiration. Data used for such resolution must be relayed by individual repositories which register the fact that information is held for particular entities at specific locations but should not replicate the information itself.

RFID resolution can take one of two modes, one-off and standing queries. One-off queries are executed once at preset time and return results synchronously or asynchronously. They can execute either in direct or relayed style and they are comparatively simple with the main complication the possibility of inefficient or withheld access to data by specific repository operators, which may prevent the system from achieving correctness or predictable response time.

The so-called standing queries are longer running specifications of interest in patterns of application-level events, and depend upon future situation updates from potentially new data sources. In this mode of operation, individual applications subscribe to specific queries and are notified when the conditions specified in the query are met. Typically, these queries relate to the existence of a new custodian or the presence of the entity at a specific location, both of which may imply a change in ownership or a prominent event in the entity lifetime. Complexity in standing queries is due to the involvement of multiple repositories, a potentially large number of subscribing applications to a particular query, and the complex distributed internal structure of the discovery service required for performance reasons.

Standing queries present close similarities to continuous query models of stream processing and distributed event management systems. The execution profile of a standing query often matches the following pattern: event metadata are inserted as a continuous stream and are subsequently cross checked against stored data, for example, access control credentials and policies. When specific criteria have been met, suitable notifications are delivered to all subscribed applications. To carry out these tasks, it is necessary to transform standing queries into an executable query plan, optimize the query plan or generate a set of candidate plans, and map query operations onto the particular network topology. Such queries could express complex spatial, temporal, and semantic relationships and include serial and class level patterns.

This modus operandi implies the need for an expressive language for their specification with rich language features, which at the same time allows for a high performance implementation for stream-based matching. Processors optimized for RFID are not currently available and we also expect significant efficiency gains through the implementation of different distributed event management techniques, for example, multilayer and broker-network architectures.

Section VII.

Future Applications

Enter the future possibilities for RFID that are sure to overwhelm more traditional business models; perhaps what some consider the stuff of science fiction, but tested enough to now be considered science fact [17]. The insurance industry is an excellent example of how technology has been used in innovative ways to introduce premium models that were previously considered impossible to implement. In 2006, IBM and Norwich Union in the United Kingdom teamed up and installed microchips coupled with global position system (GPS) receivers to track and monitor the driving behaviors of about 7000 cars [18]. By measuring the risk based on age, gender, and time of driving, they were able to introduce customized car insurance premiums. If you are a male, under the age of 25, and driving after 11 p.m. on a Friday night, for instance, expect to pay full fees. Adjust your travel behaviors based on certain driving curfews, and expect to pay far less on your premium. It will not be too far out before implantable solutions for humans based on RFID make it possible to monitor real-time blood alcohol levels, heart rates, temperature, and other physiological characteristics—the patents were filed in some cases two decades ago.

Web-services-based applications will form the underbelly of pervasive computing. The building blocks of the web services domain were established when middleware became prominent in the requirement for interoperability. Middleware brought uniformity and standardization, allowed for heterogeneity of various hardware components and operating systems, and provided a set of common services to developers and end users. Today, web services sit in the internet cloud serving multiple clients but with middleware components still very much acting as the enabler. Web services together with web-enabled technologies such as sensor motes will play a pivotal role in the context of ubiquitous computing in combination with RFID technology.

The convergence of sensor capabilities in RFID tags further expands their sphere of utility in applications such as perishable products. Sensor technology is being fused into RFID such that different variables measured by sensors can also be reported by tags instead of just plain IDs. The types of sensing capabilities reported to have been fused into RFID tags include temperature, acceleration, and chemical, among others. RFID-sensor fusion can help us to monitor large scale environmental factors by networking the readers with RFID sensors spread within certain bounds. This would help us to make real-time queries about the area under observation (e.g., bushfire prone zones) and also offer results at a much higher resolution than previously attempted.

Sensor-based tags have also given rise to a new category of tags known as semipassive tags. Semipassive or battery-assisted tags are different from the conventional passive tags, whereby, a battery source is provided in the tag to power the on-board sensors. The tag has other intelligent features such as sleep mode to conserve power. Applications where sensor-based tags have been introduced include tracking fresh cut flowers, monitoring temperature of drugs, monitoring blood and organs for transplant, etc., [19].

The diffusion of RFID and mobile technologies is greatly empowering a number of sectors. Miniaturized readers and tags are being embedded into mobile phones to expand their capabilities, while advanced wireless and mobile phone technologies are also being incorporated into readers. The connectivity of mobile technology to the internet makes it a suitable domain for development of web service components. Real-time-location-based systems consist of a group of sensors or passive or active RFID tags, working in concert to track the position of objects or people of interest in regular intervals. Several techniques have been devised to utilize the capabilities of existing RFID infrastructure in predicting locations of target items in an indoor setup. Real-time location-based operations will constitute a large chunk of RFID operations. The continuous updates provided by RFID systems enable transparency, speedy operation, counterfeit prevention, and staff safety by tracking people in hazardous or sensitive work environments. This capability complements the other utilities of an RFID system in an enterprise, as many organizations have the need of continuously knowing the location of their resources inside a complex indoor setup. Some examples of these are: locating tools inside a big factory floor or locating patients inside a hospital.

Opening office doors simply by showing your hands may have been used to demonstrate the capabilities of RFID in the 1990s but entrepreneurs and some government officials are now thinking outside the box. RFID-based applications have significantly gathered momentum in the medical domain. Consider, for instance, the swallowable sensor device, patented on April 2, 2009 [20], the U.S. health bill which was put forward to Congress in July 2009 containing a national medical device registry based on a possible class II implantable device, life supporting and/or life sustaining in nature [21], and the RFID implant that can detect the H1N1 virus patented in October 2009 [22]. Once upon a time having an implantable could only be imagined for restorative purposes (e.g., heart pacemaker, cochlear implant); now we are looking for new ways in which to improve services. A study carried out by IDTechEx RFID Knowledgebase [23] predicted that the two biggest contributors to demand in RFID in the healthcare sector would be pharmaceutical tagging and asset/patient and patient tracking. With automated patient tracking, many repetitive tasks such as keeping tabs on patient records, their daily drug doses, and their movement about the hospital will be delegated to automated systems. This will also reduce the number of human errors in the tasks. Enter the concept of uberveillance, in its ultimate form an omnipresent electronic surveillance that makes it possible to embed ICT devices in the human body for a variety of applications [24].

This does not mean that we can expect all humans to be walking around with chips implanted in their bodies, well not for the present anyway. Although constantly changing, the current culture probably does not warrant this kind of pervasive monitoring and tracking. But surveys are now showing time and time again that most people do not mind this kind of ubiquitous tracking of nonliving things and animals. If the online and mobile social networking phenomenon is anything to go by, 20 to 30 years from now, RFID embedded technologies might see a full-blown uberveillance society where everyone shares microdetails about themselves and their household with their respective community of interest for the cocreation of social services, particularly pertaining to infrastructure requirements engineering. This kind of web of things and people (WOTAP) scenario will only happen if RFID is embraced within the paradigms of integration, convergence, and coexistence. The future scenario is not about RFID rendering all other auto-ID technologies obsolete, nor is it about a story of migration from one technology to the next. RFID will be about harnessing the power of the technology within a hybrid wireless network context, knowing all too well it is the end-point data collection mechanism, the smallest common denominator of knowledge that can be acquired (the individual unit). Consider the capabilities of RFID with sensor technology, RFID and the wireless Internet, and RFID and global positioning systems. The natural trajectory when one ponders what these new convergences may herald is nothing short of breathtaking.

Section VIII.


But to ground ourselves in the current realities and some of the technical and nontechnical challenges that RFID still presents us with, including with respect to privacy and security issues, legal/regulatory, socioethical and economic/market issues, is to admit to the need for greater coproduction among stakeholders, especially the participation of end users from the outset of service design (i.e., cocreation). RFID is far from perfect, and a greater investment is needed by all sectors to bring about a more robust and economical technology, possibly following a PSS model, that all acknowledge as adhering to legal, ethical, and policy-related standards [25]. Item level tracking, for instance, comes with its own endowed advantages and benefits for some organizations within a retail supply chain context but may not be desirable for other application areas. A level of harmonization needs to be reached between the level of required visibility in a given service and adhering to a consumer's right to informational privacy [26]. Solutions can be devised and built-in to the design of a service to overcome such challenges; they just need to be innovative. If a consumer perceives that the value proposition to them of using a given technology outweighs any costs they may experience, then they are likely to adopt the technology. By including consumers early in the process of cocreation and coproduction of RFID technology, more innovative services are destined to come to fruition. The challenge ahead will be in harnessing planetary scale RFID services using nontraditional business models like those presented in this paper that provide us with an unforeseen level of uberveillance management and decision support.


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Katina Michael

Centre for Business Services Science, University of Wollongong , Wollongong, Australia

Katina Michael

Katina Michael

Katina Michael (Senior Member, IEEE) received the B.I.T. degree in information technology from the School of Mathematical and Computing Science, University of Technology, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia, in 1996, the Doctor of Philosophy degree in information and communication technology (ICT) from the Faculty of Informatics, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, N.S.W., Australia, in 2003, and the Master of Transnational Crime Prevention degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong, in 2009. Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the School of Information Systems and Technology, University of Wollongong (2002–2010), and has previously been employed as a Senior Network Engineer at Nortel Networks (1996–2001). She has also worked as a Systems Analyst at Andersen Consulting and OTIS Elevator Company. She has published several edited books, but more recently coauthored a 500 page reference volume: Innovative Automatic Identification and Location Based Services: from Bar Codes to Chip Implants (Hershey, PA: IGI, 2009). She has published over 85 peer-reviewed papers. She researches predominantly in the area of emerging technologies, and has secondary interests in technologies used for national security and their corresponding social implications.


George Roussos

Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at Birbeck College, University of London, London, U.K.

George Roussos

George Roussos

George Roussos (Member, IEEE) received the B.S. degree in mathematics from the University of Athens, Athens, Greece, the M.S. degree in numerical analysis and computing from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, Manchester, U.K., and the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, University of London, London, U.K. Before joining Birkbeck College, University of London, as a Lecturer he worked as the Research and Development Manager for a multinational information technology corporation in Athens, Greece, where he was responsible for the strategic development of new IT products in the areas of knowledge management and mobile internet; as an Internet Security Officer for the Ministry of Defense, Athens, Greece, where he designed the Hellenic armed forces internet exchange and domain name systems; and as a Research Fellow for Imperial College, London, U.K., where he conducted research in distributed systems. He is currently investigating the effects of social activity on system architectures, and exploring mechanisms to support navigation and findability. Dr. Roussos is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), SIGMOBILE, the IEEE Communications Society, and the IEEE Computer Society.


George Q. Huang

Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

George Huang

George Huang

George Q. Huang received the B.Eng. degree in manufacturing automation from Southeast University, Nanjing, China, in 1983 and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in mechanical engineering from Cardiff University, Cardiff, U.K., in 1991. Currently, he is a Professor at the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. He has been previously employed as Research Fellow and Lecturer in various universities. He has been conducting research projects in intelligent product design and manufacturing in a context of supply chain logistics. He has published over 250 research papers, half of which have appeared in reputable journals in addition to two monographs and two edited reference books. Dr. Huang serves on editorial boards of a number of international journals. He is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the American Society Of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Institution of Industrial Engineers (IIE), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE), and Hong Kong Logistics Association (HKLA).


Arunabh Chattopadhyay

Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of California Los Angeles , Los Angeles, CA, USA. 

Arunabh Chattopadhyay received the B.S. degree from Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University, Delhi, India, in 2005 and the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, in 2007. Currently, he is working towards the Ph.D. degree at the Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) Center, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles. His areas of interests are in RFID and distributed database systems.

Rajit Gadh

Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Rajit Gadh (Member, IEEE) received the B.S. degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, the M.S. degree from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and the Ph.D. degree from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Pittsburgh, PA. He is a Professor of Engineering, Director of Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) Center, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA-WINMEC), and Director of UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center. He has taught as a Visiting Researcher at the University of California Berkeley, has been an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and did his sabbatical as a Visiting Researcher at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, for a year. He has lectured and given keynote addresses worldwide. Dr. Gadh has won several awards from the National Science Foundation (CAREER award, Research Initiation Award, NSF-Lucent Industry Ecology Award, GOAL-I award), The Society of Automotive Engineers (Ralph Teetor award), IEEE (second best student-paper, WTS), the American Society Of Mechanical Engineers (Kodak Best Technical Paper award), AT&T (Industrial Ecology Fellow Award), Engineering Education Foundation (Research Initiation Award), William Wong Fellowship award from the University of Hong Kong, and other accolades in his career. He is on the Editorial board of the ACM Computers in Entertainment and the CAD Journal.

B. S. Prabhu

Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

B. S. Prahbu received the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Currently, he is a Senior Research Engineer at the Wireless Media Lab and Wireless Internet for Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC), Henry Samueli School of Engineering, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He is currently engaged in research in the areas of adopting wireless technologies (RFID, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPRS, GPS) for enterprise applications. His areas of interest include RFID ecosystem for manufacturing, development of a generic wireless sensor interface, RFID and sensors in healthcare (both in-patient and ambulatory), and semantics-based automated applications. He has been the lead architect of a RFID middleware project, a pioneering effort in developing a comprehensive RFID architecture which supports multiple RFID technologies to work synergistically to provide best-of-breed solutions to many industry verticals. He has over 30 research publications in peer-reviewed journals, conferences, and books.

Peter Chu

Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Peter Chu received the B.S. degree from the National Taiwan University, Tainan, Taiwan, in 1990 and the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 2001.

Currently, he is a Senior Researcher at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He is a seasoned Research Manager who has supervised and steered multiple industry and academia research projects in the field of smart grid, RFID technologies, mobile communication (WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, GPRS, 3G), media entertainment (DRM, mobile music, video, imaging, gaming, etc.), 3-D/2-D visualization of scientific data (astronomical, power system, industry process data, etc.), and computer-aided design. He has over ten years of experience in research and development of software architectures, frameworks, and solutions, and has delivered multiple project solutions and software packages to the industry globally. He leads active research collaborative projects with companies such as Siemems, Qualcomm, Motorola, HP, Raytheon, Maersk, and Northrop Grumman. He holds two patents and has published more than 30 papers in professional engineering and scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings. He had published papers focused on RFID research and more recently was invited to author a book chapter on “Mobile, wireless and sensor networks: Technology, applications and future directions” (Wiley). He has been invited to Korea and Taiwan to speak on the current status of RFID and sensor network applications. Dr. Chu received the Best Paper Award in Excellence for Applied Research at the 2004 Wireless Telecommunications Symposium.

Citation:  Katina Michael; George Roussos; George Q. Huang; Arunabh Chattopadhyay; Rajit Gadh; B. S. Prabhu; Peter Chu, "Planetary-Scale RFID Services in an Age of Uberveillance", Proceedings of the IEEE, Year: 2010, Volume: 98, Issue: 9, pp. 1663 - 1671, DOI: 10.1109/JPROC.2010.2050850

IEEE Keywords: Radiofrequency identification, Internet, Radio frequency, Technological innovation, Decision making,Technology management, Business process re-engineering, Packaging, Supply chains, Australia

INSPEC: surveillance, business process re-engineering, decision-making, Internet, radiofrequency identification, strategic planning, vision, RFID services, uberveillance, radiofrequency identification, barcode tagging, nonline of sight identification, decision making, strategic management, reengineered business process

Author Keywords: vision, Innovation, radio-frequency identification (RFID), service

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