Blockchain technology has started to gain acceptance beyond cryptocurrencies and companies and research institutes have started integrating it with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Real-Time Location System (RTLS) solutions. China based Waltonchain has developed a solution in combination of blockchain and RFID to counter the anti-counterfeiting challenges in retail and supply chain; Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) in Germany is working on developing a solution based on blockchain and RFID sensors; and A.P. Moller – Maersk and IBM are working on developing a solution for improved supply chain management using blockchain and RFID. A technology that combines RFID and RTLS along with blockchain has the capability to transform businesses and bring more visibility. Such a solution allows business owners to view their transactions related to RTLS tags through blockchain-enabled smart contracts.
RFID, RTLS, and GPS are used to track freights. Blockchain will facilitate transformation of transportation into smart transportation. It will also ensure data are recorded rightly, preserved properly, and can be revisited for business decision purposes. Rise of connected transportation and shared transportation would require real-time tracking and communication. Locating, identifying, and recording every communication and transaction would ensure an error free and reliable system. While RTLS can be used for real-time tracking and locating, blockchain will help in recording and validating the communication and transactions. RFID and blockchain can also ensure better cold chain management. In addition to greater connectivity and visibility, blockchain will also make the entire eco-system more transparent and secure.
With the growth of connected healthcare, greater visibility, machine-to-machine connectivity, and real-time interaction between people and assets are required. Remote healthcare and home based healthcare business models are gaining popularity in developed economies. This type of medical treatments would soon be accepted in emerging and developing economies too due to certain advantages such as low cost, convenience, and decreased burdens on hospitals and doctors, which allow them to take care of other patients. Hence for such a system to function smoothly and perfectly, it is essential that there is greater visibility on conditions of patients, real-time communication between patients and doctors/nurses, and timely follow-ups. A solution combining RTLS and blockchain technologies will ensure that the remote patient monitoring and remote treatment process are performed error free and the entire treatment history is documented for future references.
While RFID helps the healthcare providers achieve real-time visibility and interaction between people and assets, blockchain technology allows various stakeholders in the healthcare value-chain to share access to their networks without compromising data security and integrity. Convergence of RFID and blockchain also ensures a safe and secure healthcare cold chain involving high prescription drugs, vaccines, blood, plasma, and important laboratory samples required for diagnostics, and R&D. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and data privacy is a federal mandate in the United States. European commission too has similar restrictions on access and privacy of patient information. Hence it is extremely essential for healthcare providers, doctors, and nurses to ensure data privacy. RFID is being used across hospitals in the United States and in Europe to manage EMR systems and prevent unauthorized access. RFID with blockchain will ensure that each time records are accessed, it is documented and recorded permanently. This will increase safety and security and eliminate unauthorized access or misuse of data.
Drug manufacturers globally are facing a key challenge of counterfeit drugs and vaccines. This is not only resulting into monetary losses and diminished brand value, but counterfeit drugs also result into improper treatment and loss of valuable human lives. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, laboratories engaged in research and developments, and pharmaceutical supply chain participants and transporters are increasingly looking for advanced technologies such as RTLS to check counterfeiting. Similarly, manufacturing industry is also facing the challenge of counterfeiting which involves selling of pirated goods. This challenge is even more for critical for high value goods and luxury items. Blockchain based RFID technology will not only ensure visibility, but also a proper accountability of the transactions taking place between B2B or B2C. The registration of products on blockchain registry will allow each manufacturer and seller to maintain a proper history of the product throughout the value chain.