I went back to my home town of San Jose in the Bay Area this summer. I had the opportunity to work an internship in the Silicon Valley at Flextronics, where I worked with RFID technology. You can think of RFID as the barcode scanner of the future; no line-of-sight is necessary and the technology allows us to “scan” many tags at once. Flextronics is a large-scale electronics manufacturing company and the Microsofts and Apples of the world hire Flextronics to mass-produce things like the XBOX and the iMac after they have been designed.
RFID has recently become cheap enough for the technology to be of interest to Flextronics. The idea is to attach RFID tags to individual units as they travel through the manufacturing process (conveyor belts, automated assembly systems, etc) and track data. The goal is ultimately to increase yield, and by tracking data about all parts of the system Flextronics can do analytics to ensure optimal manufacturing processes and high yeild. I worked in the Advanced Engineering Group (AEG) and was tasked with doing the first prototyping of RFID technology into Flextronics’ automated systems.