RFID Basics

  Are you just beginning to learn about the benefits and workings of RFID? Here's a quick article to help you in your search for information. "RFID Basics" explains how it works, where it can be used, and more.


What is RFID?

RFID, or radio frequency identification, is a form of data technology where radio waves are used to identify an item. This type of identification system primarily involves RFID tags or “smart labels” and readers, which is comparable to the relationship between a barcode and a scanner. However, in the case of RFID, the reader does not even need to see the actual tag to recognize the data encoded within.

How does it work? The tags are comprised of what is called an integrated circuit, or IC, and an antenna that work together to store and transmit the data. RFID tags are created in many different sizes and designs. There must be a source of power in order for the information to travel from tag to reader. If a tag is passive, it does not use a battery and the power of the data transmission is supplied by the reader. An active tag uses its own battery to power the transmission. Any data that is stored on an RFID tag can be protected depending on the tag authoring format. Similar to compact discs, RFID tags are available in read-only or read-write formats. Combination formats are also available and allow a user to restrict certain items as read-only and others as read-write for archiving and storage purposes.


Uses for RFID tags

There are several modern uses for RFID tags other than tracking items being purchased or finding lost pets. Making a payment from a mobile phone, tracking automobiles, using public transportation, and identifying animals for farming are some of the other common purposes for RFID tagging. Here are a few additional scenarios where this technology is used to transmit data. RFID Tag Guest Wristband Using an RFID tag on a wristband allows visitors at an attraction park or lodge to charge their purchases directly to their account. It can also serve as a room key.


Mandates for RFID

Some large entites that deal with mass shipments, such as Wal-Mart and even the U.S. Department of Defense, now require that their suppliers and vendors use RFID labels to improve tracking. These RFID mandates mainly pertain to pallets, not individual items in the shipments.


Replacing Barcodes

There is an on-going discussion about when and if RFID tags will entirely replace barcode technology. Concerns like cost and the desire of accessibility through the range of possible data sources. The simplicity of the techonology in standard barcodes is an attractive feature that keeps manufacturers using this data format instead of RFID. Economic issues have been blamed for the delay of the adoption of the RFID technology and phasing out barcodes.


- From the BarCode News