Did you know that the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology is being extensively used in our daily lives?
Most of the time, we aren’t even aware of it, but it’s a fact, and that too, sometimes, is surprising.
RFID technology is primarily used nowadays for identification and location tracking.
It has become an integral part of modern companies and big organizations to automate asset tracking thereby enhancing the security and efficiency of warehouses by significantly reducing work and logistics costs.
Alongside this, it has made contactless payments absolute ease and people use it all over the world on a daily basis.
%%Quote%% The global contactless payment market size was valued at $1,168 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $5,424 billion by 2027
RFID is proving to be a boon for companies and individuals alike.
Let’s see how this technology has made lives easier for all of us!
What is Radio Frequency Identification RFID?
Radio Frequency Identification, popularly called RFID, is essentially a wireless system comprising two components – readers and tags. Simply put it’s a technology in which a reader is used to capture digital data encoded in RFID tags or smart labels via radio waves.
Using RFID is quite similar to reading barcode labels, in which a handheld or mounted device (readers) captures the data from a smart label or tag and stores it in a database.
However, there are several advantages of RFID over barcode technology, QR, and similar systems. The biggest benefit is its ease and efficiency in reading the tag data outside the line-of-sight, while barcodes can only be read through an optical scanner. Thereby data collection becomes significantly easier.
How does an RFID System Work?
RFID primarily works through a group of technologies called “Automatic Identification and Data Capture” (AIDC), which automatically identifies objects, gathers data about them, and feeds and stores those data directly into the computer systems without any human intervention using radio waves.
Components of RFID System
The RFID computer program works through at least four components – Tags, Readers, Antennas, and Cables. The simplest RFID system can consist of a mobile handheld RFID reader (with an integrated antenna) and RFID tags.
However, more complex systems are designed using RFID tags, multiple cables and antennas, additional functionality devices like stack lights, GPIO boxes, multi-port readers, and a complete software setup.
It comprises an antenna and an integrated circuit and is made of protective material holding the pieces together and shielding them from different environmental conditions (depends on the application). RFID tags are either active or passive and come in varied sizes and shapes. For example, the RFID tags for employee ID badges are typically made of durable plastic.
It is different from an RFID tag. It incorporates both barcode and RFID technologies and is made of an adhesive label with an embedded RFID tag inlay. A Smart Label may also be featuring a barcode or other printed information. It can be encoded and printed whenever required with the help of desktop label printers.
It is an essential component without which the RFID system can’t function. It is the brain of the RFID system. Also called interrogators, the RFID Reader is a device transmitting and receiving radio waves needed for communicating with RFID tags. The RFID Reader is of two types – Fixed RFID Reader and Mobile RFID Reader.
The Fixed RFID Reader is typically mounted into portals, on desks, on walls, or other stationary locations, and stays in one location. The Mobile RFID Reader is a handheld device. Its flexibility helps to read RFID tags while still being able to communicate with a smart device or computer.
It is an important element in an RFID system. It is used for converting the RFID reader’s signal into radio frequency waves that can be picked up by RFID tags. The RFID Reader won’t be able to properly receive and send signals to RFID tags without an integrated or standalone RFID Antenna.
Types of RFID
There are two types of RFID residing within the Ultra High-Frequency range (General Frequency Range: 300 – 3000 MHz; and Primary Frequency Ranges: 433 MHz, 860 – 960 MHz). These two types are Active RFID and Passive RFID.
Read Range: 30 – 100+ Meters
Primary Frequency Range: 433 MHz
Average Cost per Tag: $25.00 – $50.00
Applications: Asset Tracking, Construction, Mining, Auto Manufacturing, Vehicle Tracking
- Lower Infrastructure Cost
- Very Long Read Range
- High Data Transmission Rates
- Large Memory Capacity
- High per Tag Cost
- High Interference from Metal and Liquids
- Shipping Restrictions
- Few Global Standards
- Complex Software may be required
Read Range: Near Contact – 25 Meters
Primary Frequency Ranges: 860 – 960 MHz
Average Cost per Tag: $0.09 – $20.00
Applications: Asset Tracking, Supply Chain Tracking, Race Timing, Manufacturing, Inventory Tracking, Electronic Tolling, Pharmaceuticals
- High Data Transmission Rates
- Long Read Range
- Global Standards
- Wide Variety of Tag Sizes and Shapes
- Low Cost per Tag
- Moderate Memory Capacity
- High Interference from Metal and Liquids
- High Equipment Costs
There is another type of passive RFID tags which come with an embedded battery.
Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) RFID
BAP systems, or semi-passive RFID systems, include a power supply in a passive tag setup. The power supply ensures that the reader uses all the acquired energy to mirror the signals which enhance read range and data transmission speeds.
BAP tags have no independent transmitters, as opposed to active RFID transponders. In battery-assisted passive RFID tags the inbuilt battery power the electronic components by detecting the radio frequency signal from the Scanner. Signals are then transmitted to RFID readers by such tags. Since BAP Battery-powered RFID tags have a range larger than passive tags but less than active tags. These tags could also be equipped with embedded sensors or actuators, which may be utilized with fundamental tag information to communicate extra information like temperature, humidity, etc.
The battery in BAP tags is typically not removable and these tags must be changed after it goes out. RFID tags with Battery Assisted are generally more costly than passive tags and lower in price than active tags.
There are endless examples of applications currently benefiting from RFID. These applications extend from major areas like supply chain management to inventory tracking and can become even more specialized depending on the particular industry or company.
There are various applications where RFID technology is being used successfully.
- Logistics Tracking (Materials Management)
- Pipe and Spool Tracking
- Retail Inventory Tracking
- Jewelry Tracking
- Tool Tracking
- Animal Tracking
- Hospital Infant Tracking
- Vehicle Tracking
- Access Control
- Event & Attendee Tracking
- Returnable Transit Item (RTI) Tracking
- File Tracking
- Laundry & Textile Tracking
- IT Asset Tracking
- Inventory Tracking
- Pharmaceutical Tracking
- Supply Chain Management
- Race Timing, Marketing Campaigns
- Library Materials Tracking
- DVD Kiosks
- Real-Time Location Systems
In The Home
What is the Future of RFID?
RFID technologies are ready to make important progress with analysts saying that development in healthcare, retail, food safety, and other areas would be more rapid. As more sectors and corporations invest in technology, the future of RFID is increasing and developing. As a consequence, RFID is more cost-effective than ever to solve genuine business difficulties.
While RFID systems have previously been confined to particular conditions, it is now possible to employ tags such as severe temperatures or chemical pollutants in difficult conditions. In several sectors, RFID’s versatile uses, enhanced efficiency, and cost-effectiveness have made it popular.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions when it comes to the topic of RFID.
What does RFID mean?
What is RFID used for?
Is RFID harmful to humans?
RFID technology is being used since World War II, and its demand over the past decades is rapidly increasing. Its effective use in location tracking and identification is sincerely felt by companies worldwide and the clamor for RFID equipment has grown manifold. The use and advantages of RFID are multifarious as already demonstrated above through its various applications. The RFID technology undoubtedly has a bright future ahead and will be adopted by companies and organizations at an aggressive pace.