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Contents Active and Passive RFID Systems

RFID:A Beginner's Guide

1. Introduction to Radio Frequency Identification-RFID
  1. What is RFID
  2. Compare RFID with Bar Code Technology
  3. Benefits of RFID
  4. Disadvantages of RFID

1. Introduction to Radio Frequency Identification

a. What is RFID

RFID, short for Rradio Frequency IDentification, is a technology that enables identification of a tag (that is normally attached with an entity) by using electromagnetic waves. The function served by RFID is similar to bar code identification, but line of sight signals are not required for operation of RFID. Important components of an RFID system are:

  • An RFID reader (also called transceiver) with an antenna and a transceiver,
  • A transponder (Also called a tag) that includes an antenna and a chip)

b. Compare RFID with Bar Code Technology

Given below are the brief differences between the Barcode technology and RFID:

Parameter Bar Code RFID
Frequencies used for tag reading Optical frequencies Radio frequencies
Type of communication Line of sight communication Non-Line of sight communication
Data Volume Physical limitation exists. It is very difficult to read a very long barcode. Can carry relatively large volume of data.
Range of data readability Very limited range, less than a feet or two. Can be read up to several feet.
Cost Cheap Expensive, but likely to cost less as more industries adopt the technology.

c. Benefits of RFID

The following are the benefits of RFID Systems:

  • Non-line of sight identification of tags.
  • Unattended operations are possible, minimizing human errors and high cost.
  • Ability to identify moving elements that have tags embedded.
  • Larger area of coverage. Up to several feet.
  • Can be used in diverse environments, including live stock, military, and scientific areas.
  • RFID can be used in addition to Bar Code. These two technologies can be complementing each other.
  • Automatic integration with back end software solutions provide end to end integration of data in real time.

d. Disadvantages of RFID:

  • Expensive compared with Bar code
  • Bulkier, due to embedding of electronic components in the tag. However, with advanced techniques, it is possible to reduce the size, and weight of the tags to a large extent.
  • Prone to physical/electrical damage due to environmental conditions. For example, tags that are subjected to space exploration may encounter extreme temperatures. The tags required to be designed for a given application, and may be costly when designed for use under extreme environmental conditions.
Contents Active and Passive RFID Systems
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