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What is RFID? Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of a wireless system that uses radio frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking.  RFID is only one of the numerous technologies grouped under the term Automatic Identification (Auto ID), such as bar code, magnetic inks, optical character recognition, voice recognition, touch memory, smart cards, biometrics etc. Components of a RFID tag the IC is a small microprocessor, which has a logic unit that makes decisions and provides memory to store data.  The IC needs power to operate. The antenna is connected to the tag IC. It receives the signals from the interrogator and, depending on tag type, it either transmits or reflects the received signal back. The geometry of an antenna determines the frequency at which the tag operates. The substrate holds all other tag components together.  The tag antenna is deposited or printed on the substrate, and the IC is then attached to this antenna.

Passive Active Types of RFID Tags

Passive RFID tags have no internal power supply.  A small electric current is created in the antenna when an incoming signal reaches it.  This current provides enough power to briefly activate the tag, usually just long enough to relay simple information, such as an ID number or product name.  Because passive RFID tags do not contain a power supply, they can be very small in size, sometimes thinner than a piece of paper.  These tags can be activated from a distance of ten millimeters to over 6 meters away.

Active RFID tags do contain an internal power source, which allows for a longer read-range and for a bigger memory on the tag itself.  The power source also makes it possible to store information sent by the transceiver.  Active RFID tags are larger than passive tags, usually slightly bigger than a coin.  They can be read from many meters away, and generally have a battery life of about ten years.  Advantages of active tags include accuracy, reliability, and superior performance in adverse environments, such as damp or metallic.

Type of tag EPC Class Memory Type Radio frequency used Bits Power Source Reading Distance (meters) RFID Passive 0 ROM 138 Khz 13.95 Mhz 64 Reader EMF 0.04-3 RFID Active 4 ROM 13.85 Mhz 64 Battery 3-10 RFID Passive Programmable 1 EEPROM 138 Khz 13.95 Mhz 96, 128 Reader EMF 0.04-3 RFID Active Programmable 2, 3, 4 EEPROM 138 Khz 13.95 Mhz >128 Battery 3-10 Data Tag 2, 3, 4 CMOS RAM 13.85 Mhz 985 Mhz(UHF) >128 Battery 3-10 Types of RFID tags.

RFID vs Barcode, Data capacity is more. Several thousand characters. Line of sight not required. May last several years, depending upon the type of tag.  Allows unattended identification. Several tags can be read simultaneously. Some tags can store memory.  Data capacity is very less. Up to 24 characters.  Line of sight required. Paper labels are subject to wear and damage, hence less durable.  Only a single barcode can be scanned at a time. No memory storage possible. RFID BARCODE, but RFID are not only for identification scope, but unlike Barcodes, RFID is not merely for identification purposes.


Supply Chain Management and RFID Information about the contents to be loaded from a factory can be written onto the tag, e.g. quantity, weight, serial number, date, time etc. This allows the information to be easily checked after transit, without having access to an on-line database. This can be very useful to check if items have gone “missing” during transit. Using the tag on the shipment and RFID readers on each of the loading bays, it is possible to identify the shipment, as it is loaded. The advantage is that the reading and verification is done completely automatically.

Livestock and Animal Tracking a tag is inserted through a Single Use Disposable syringe into the animal. It remains under the skin of the animal.  The number of the RFID tag is unique and cannot be altered.  When an animal is to be scanned, it is either brought near RFID reader or scanner or a hand-held reader is used.  The reader is connected to a remote database which correlates the unique RFID tag number on the animal with other data on the animal. This helps in easily maintaining electronic records of vaccination and medication, health checkups, etc.

Mobile phones will be integrated with RFID reader powered by mobile phone’s battery. RFID tags can be read through these mobile phones and information can be sent to the mobile phone service provider for many types of transactions. This functionality can provide many services like banking, billing, and purchasing, electronic payment etc. RFID reader integrated mobile phones.

Healthcare all patients admitted to the hospital are given an RFID-based wristband with a passive RFID chip in it. This chip stores a unique patient ID number and relevant medical information. The caregiver uses a handheld computer with an RFID interrogator to read the data encoded on the patients ID bracelets. Over a wireless LAN connection, the hospital staff can access the patient’s medical history as well as treatment record.

ePassports  The first RFID passports (“E-passports”) were issued by Malaysia in1998. In addition to information also contained on the visual data page of the passport, they record the travel history (time, date, and place) of entries and exits from the country. Italian passports have a RFID tag since 26th October 2006.  Throughout Europe, RFID passes conforming to the Calypso (RFID) international standard are used for public transport systems. Each tag is augmented with a photo sensor to significantly extend the functionality and support radio frequency identity and geometry (RFIG) discovery Objects become self-discovering. The electronic passport, or ePassport, is the same as a traditional passport book with the addition of a small, embedded integrated circuit (or chip). In the United States and many other countries, the chip is embedded in the back cover. The chip stores: The same data visually displayed on the data page of the passport;  The passport holder picture stored in digital form;  The unique chip identification number;  A digital signature to detect data alteration and verify signing authority;  Additional data, as defined by specific issuing governments. Standards for the ePassport have been established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)1 and are followed by all countries implementing ePassports.

The real value of RFID technology stems from the insight that stands to be gained from the identification, location and subsequent control of that item and applying that insight to business. RFID is not industry specific—its business value specific. RFID is more than a locator beacon. RFID is an enabling tool that is not only a source of powerful information, but a source of true business innovation.


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