Auburn University celebrated the grand opening of the radio frequency identification, or RFID, lab on Wednesday, May 20.
RFID tags, when attached to items, can track items that can assist in marketing research and loss prevention. The tags use wireless systems to send data from microchip tags to receivers, which tell what the product is and where the product is located.
The tags can also track people, as Justin Patton, the Director of the RFID lab noted. He recently had a son, he said, and the first thing the nurses put on the baby was an RFID tag. Attaching tags to newborns help hospitals keep track of a child’s location and identity.
According to Dr. Bill Hardgrave, the dean of Harbert College of Business, the RFID lab that originated in 2003 at the University of Arkansas, was moved to its new and expanded site in Auburn in May of 2014.
With the official opening of the lab Auburn alum Dave Clark, the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service at Amazon, announced a partnership between Auburn and Amazon.
“I’m excited today, not only celebrate opening the lab, but also to celebrate a new partnership between Amazon and the RFID lab,” Clark said. “Together we expect the partner to develop new solutions using RFID in our amazon supply chain, specifically focusing on tagging and dragging items through our fulfillment process.”
Amazon has used RFID technology in it’s fulfillment centers for years and hopes Auburn will use the lab to develop faster and better ways to use RFID tags.
According to Hardgrave the 13,000-square-foot lab located on East Glenn will focus on faster scanning, distribution and analyzing outcomes of consumer behavior.
During the opening visitors watched demonstrations that showed the efficiency of RFID technology, with one demonstration showing how the system could scan 200 items in seconds.
The RFID lab features models, retail and grocery stores, factories, distribution centers and warehouse storage centers for a wide range of student learning.
The displays are completed with care towards aesthetic design, shoes line the wall, high-end clothing is arranged carefully on racks and jewelry is assembled carefully on counters, catching the light and the eye.
“We’re thrilled to have the lab at Auburn because of what they bring to the University and to the community,” Hardgrave said. “I wish you could have seen what the lab looked like just a week ago, 48 hours ago. It’s definitely one of those extreme makeover shows. The students designed and build what you see in the lab. They did a phenomenal job.”