Short for radio frequency identification,
RFID is a
dedicated short range communication (DSRC) technology. The
term RFID is
used to describe various technologies that use radio waves to
automatically identify people or objects. RFID technology is similar
to the bar
code identification systems we see in retail stores everyday;
however one big difference between RFID and bar code technology is
that RFID does not rely on the line-of-sight reading that bar code
scanning requires to work.
The Technology Behind RFID
With RFID, the electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the
frequency) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is used to
transmit signals. An RFID system consists of an antenna and a
transceiver, which read the radio frequency and transfer the
information to a processing
(reader) and a
RF tag, which contains the RF circuitry and information
to be transmitted. The antenna provides the means for the
integrated circuit to transmit its information to the reader that
converts the radio waves reflected back from the RFID tag into
digital information that can then be passed on to computers that can
analyze the data.
In RFID systems, the
tags that hold
the data are broken down into two different types.
Passive tags use
the radio frequency from the reader to transmit their signal.
Passive tags will generally have their data permanently burned into
the tag when it is made, although some can be rewritten.
Active tags are much more sophisticated and have on-board battery
to transmit their data signal over a greater distance and
power random access memory (RAM) giving them the ability to store up
to 32,000 bytes of data.
Much like tuning in to your favorite radio station, RFID tags
and readers must be tuned into the same frequency to enable communications.
RFID systems can use a variety of frequencies to communicate, but
because radio waves work and act differently at different
frequencies, a frequency for a specific RFID system is often
dependant on its application. High frequency RFID systems (850
MHz to 950 MHz and 2.4 GHz to 2.5 GHz) offer transmission ranges of
more than 90 feet, although wavelengths in the 2.4 GHz range are
absorbed by water, which includes the human body, and therefore has
Common Uses of RFID
RFID systems can be used just about anywhere, from clothing tags to
missiles to pet tags to food - anywhere that a unique identification
system is needed. The tag can carry information as simple as a pet
owners name and address or the cleaning instruction on a sweater to
as complex as instructions on how to assemble a car.
Here are a few examples of how RFID
technology is being used in everyday
- RFID systems are being used in
some hospitals to track a patient's location, and to provide
real-time tracking of the location of doctors and nurses in the
hospital. In addition, the system can be used to track the
whereabouts of expensive and critical equipment, and even to
control access to drugs, pediatrics, and other areas of the
hospital that are considered "restricted access" areas.
- RFID chips
for animals are extremely small devices injected via syringe
under skin. Under a government initiative to control rabies, all
Portuguese dogs must be RFID tagged by 2007. When scanned the
tag can provide information relevant to the dog's history and
its owner's information.
in retail stores offer real-time inventory tracking that
allows companies to monitor and control inventory supply at all
- The Orlando/Orange County
Expressway Authority (OOCEA) is using an
RFID based traffic-monitoring system, which uses roadside
RFID readers to collect signals from transponders that are
installed in about 1 million E-Pass and SunPass customer
The Future of RFID
RFID is said by many in the industry to be the frontrunner
technology for automatic identification and data collection. The
biggest, as of yet unproven, benefit would ultimately be in the
consumer goods supply chain where an RFID tag attached to a consumer
product could be tracked from manufacturing to the retail store
right to the consumer's home.
Many see RFID as a technology in
its infancy with an untapped potential. While we may talk of its
existence and the amazing ways in which this technology can be put
to use, until there are more standards set within the industry and
the cost of RFID technology comes down we won't see RFID systems
reaching near their full potential anytime soon.
Key Terms To
Radio Frequency Identification
(pronounced as separate letters) Short for radio frequency
identification, a technology similar in theory to
identification. With RFID, the electromagnetic or electrostatic
coupling in the
RF portion of
the electromagnetic spectrum is used to transmit signals. An RFID
system consists of an antenna and a
which read the radio frequency and transfer the information to a
device, and a
or tag, which is an
containing the RF circuitry and information to be transmitted.
Short for radio frequency, any frequency
within the electromagnetic spectrum associated with radio wave
propagation. When an RF current is supplied to an antenna, an
electromagnetic field is created that then is able to propagate
through space. Many wireless technologies are based on RF field
as separate letters) Short for automatic identification
and data capture, or collection, a
generic term for the process of capturing or collecting data via
automatic means (i.e., without the use of a
magnetic strips, and subsequently storing that data in a
device, such as a computer.
More Related Terms From
Related Categories From Webopedia