10 Everyday Technologies You Don't Realize You Use


Unfortunately, a commute is part of many people's everyday experiences. Whiling away the hours listening to Top 40 Hits in traffic is bad enough, but some of us even have to pay for the privilege. Toll bridges and roads can make a bad commute miserable.

But an E-ZPass or an automatic tolling chip lets you fly through tolls without stopping and contorting yourself into strange positions in an attempt to get at the change on your floor. Many people don't recognize the technology they're using; it's called RFID (radio frequency identification). RFID works by using a small computer chip -- in this case, on your toll pass affixed to your car or license plate -- to communicate and hold information. Using radio frequency, an electronic reader that can see your pass or plate collects the information in your chip: your vehicle's registration, address and maybe even an account that you've set up to automatically pay your toll fees. Unlike UPC codes, RFID codes can also send out information, as well as store it.

You can learn a lot more about RFID here, but the technology is growing. Right now, you might be using RFID tags to check out books from the library if you live in Seattle or New Orleans.