The many applications of RFID
RFID technology is a well-known wireless application for traceability, logistics, and access control.
RFID is nowadays a standardized technology which provides practical benefits that drive new developments in terms of concepts and applications. This trend is largely confirmed by the market forecast, but also by its implementation in the area of health (smart hospital), assistance to persons, asset tracking and anti-counterfeiting...
What is RFID?
A technology that is used to identify objects or people, RFID is based on the use of radio electric waves to read the data contained within an RFID transponder, commonly known as a label or tag. These tags are composed of transmitters commonly referred to as readers, or RFID Encoders.
RFID labels, tags and markers are composed of a microchip and a radio antenna. The chip has all the pertinent information for the different applications of identification, and the antenna uses the radio frequencies for powering the chip and transmitting the data.
Each microchip contains a unique and unfalsifiable code – called the tag identifier - registered by the manufacturer during the production of the microchip. The majority of microchips have a rewritable blank memory generally called user memory.
This part of the microchip allows the user/manufacturer to store data and also to transmit that data to other equipment. Depending on the access rights of the user, some microchips authorise access to this memory zone.
Active and Passive RFID tags offer different benefits and have distinct roles for the purposes of tracking items. Active RFID tags are powered by battery and proactively broadcast their own signal. They have a much longer read range than passive tags.
RFID labels and tags are, on the whole, passive, meaning they don’t require an additional energy source to the one sent by the reader, and captured by the radio antenna. Readers are capable of emitting radio frequencies continuously, thereby activating every marker in range. The chip/antenna assembly, commonly called an inlay, is encapsulated in a label, tag or card to protect it.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a contactless communication technology operating over a radio using a low frequency with a typical range of less than 4cm.
The user experience for NFC is centered on a tap, mainly with a smartphone. It is widely used for mobile payment, access control or mobile ticketing applications.
UHF vs HF and NFC
The RFID applications to be used dictates the frequency required, as well as the reading distances necessary. Identification applications, when using radio frequencies vary, depending on the reading/writing and/or rewriting capabilities of the microchip.
For example, for applications requiring a large reading distance, (i.e: stock management in retail), Ultra High Frequency, also known as RAIN RFID, technology is used. On the other hand, a contactless transport ticket or smartcard carries High Frequency technology.
For brand protection, Near Field Communication (NFC) is more widely used.
Click below to find out more about these different RFID technologies