RFID – Radio Frequency Identification

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification

Let’s imagine a situation. You are out with family for a trip to an amusement park. So, every time you want to go on any ride, you must stand in a long waiting queue and every time you must swipe your credit card. Irritating! I know. Now imagine second scenario. You are standing in a big clothing showroom and it is highly crowded. 

You really like one of the item, but you’re asking shopkeeper for a different color. Since, the shop is crowded and big, shopkeeper is taking quite a lot of time. Disappointing! Now imagine one more scenario, where you just checked in a hotel room and the attendant hands over a key to your room. Now, after some time you step out of the room and take the room key with you. In mean time, you realize that you forgot to switch off the lights and AC. While coming back, you realize you lost the key somewhere, and now this is going to cost you even more. Holidays are almost ruined! That’s sad.

We all have faced similar kind of problems at least once in our life and it feels sad. So, what is the solution for this? Is there any solution to these day to day life problems? RFID. Yes, the solution to all these problems is RFID i.e. Radio Frequency Identification.

Let’s see how exactly it is going to help us.

RFID is not just a tracking product, it also provides access control solution. In first scenario, the tickets are made in form of credit-card and thus reduces the need to scan or swipe your credit card every time. This solution not only reduces the waiting time but also the labor cost. In second scenario, just by scanning a dressing room items, shoppers get access to product data and can find the products as per customer’s requirements. 

This will help to reduce the time to look out for the same alternative in manual way and to maintain the database efficiently. In last situation, replace your room key with a RFID tag in form of a bracelet or like a credit-card. So, every time either you go inside in a room, or outside of a room, the tag controls the entire room including locking, lights, AC and many more. In this way, all your data will be stored in a database associated with your tag. It will help the hotel owner to save all your information and can maintain the database in efficient manner. So, if in case you lose it somewhere, it becomes easy to retrieve all your data.

So, let’s now look into what exactly is RFID and why there we should use it.

What is RFID and why RFID?

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that uses radio waves to transfer data from an electronic tag, called RFID tag or label, attached to an object through a reader for the purpose of identifying and tracking the object.

Now days, there are many areas where RFID plays a significant role. A RFID tag can be affixed to any object and can be used to track and manage inventory, assets, people, etc. For example, it can be affixed to cars, computer equipment, books, mobile phones, pets etc. 
RFID is thought of as an advanced barcode or as an alternative to barcode. But, it is superior and more efficient way of identification than manual system and/or barcodes. In a way, barcodes can be read one at time only whereas , RFID tags can be read hundreds at a time. Also, passive RFID tags can be read if passed closed within its range. That means, it is not necessary to show the tag to the reader like barcodes. The tags can be read inside a case, a box or any other container.
How does RFID Works?
RFID tags are of 3 types: Active, Passive, battery-assisted passive/semi passive.
Active tags have an on-board battery an active tag can range from tens of meters, making it ideal for locating objects or serving as landmark points. The lifetime is up to 5 years.
Passive tags don’t have a battery on board and therefore they must rely on the power generated by reader. Since the battery is not associated with these tags, they are small in size and are available in cheap price. Since, they are not associated with any internal power supply, their lifespan is unlimited.
A semi passive or battery-assisted passive tags has a small battery on board and it gets activated whenever it comes in the presence of a reader. A semi-active tag has usually a range larger than a passive tag.
The reader sends out electromagnetic waves. The tag antenna is adjusted to receive these waves. A passive RFID tag draws power from field created by the reader and uses it to power the microchip’s circuits. The chip then modulates the waves that the tag sends back to the reader and the reader converts the new waves into digital data
What are the Applications of RFID and Why we use RFID?
So, the situations we imagined previously, RFID works in almost all those areas. From Tracking of Goods, Supply chain management to Amusement parks, Casinos, sports etc. Let’s see where and how RFID exactly works:
Ø  Security: ID tags of employees for offices, hotels, hospitals, casinos, libraries, Passport tracking, Human identification, Museums, amusement parks etc.
Ø  Sports: Golf ball tracking and identification, for measuring performance in sport events.
Ø  Animal Tracking: Tracking and Identification of pets, cattle and other livestock
Ø  Transportation: Toll management, Cargo management, Airport baggage tracking logistics, contactless payments, public transport
Ø  Manufacturing: Tracking of manufacturing goods like automobiles, mobiles, computers and other hardware’s
Ø  Medical: Tracking patients, babies, medicines, access control
So-far RFIDs has shown its efficiency and effectiveness almost in every field.
Ø  Labor Efficiency – It enhances the efficiency of production
Ø  Time saving – Hundreds of tags can be read per second
Ø  Security – It provides real time data and information access
Ø  Inventory Management— It helps to manage the database in efficient manner
Ø  Product Integrity
Ø  Better visibility
Are there any limitations or Issues with RFID?
Yes. This fast-growing technology has faced many challenges and Issues while growing up.
Ø  High Cost – RFID tags can cost quite a high
Ø  Security – If the tags are misplaced, anybody can access information about anything
Ø  Collision – It can be of Reader collision the signal from one reader can interfere with the signal from another where coverage overlaps or Tag collision when more than one chip reflects a signal at the same time, confusing the reader.
Ø  Environmental Concern – Recycling
Ø  RFID systems are vulnerable to virus

Tags: RFID, RFID Reader, RFID Tag, Radio waves, database, radio frequency ,range

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