Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a term for technologies that utilize radio waves to automatically identify objects or people from a distance, starting from several inches to hundreds of feet.
It is an automatic identification (Auto-ID) technology by which any object can be identified automatically. A code is stored in an RFID tag, attached to a physical object which becomes unique identifiable.
A RFID system consists of following components: tag/transponder (electronic label), antenna (medium for tag reading), reader/interrogator (read tag information), communication infrastructure (enable reader/RFID to work through IT infrastructure) and application software (user database/application/ interface).
An RFID tag (transponder) is a small electronic device consisting of a simple silicon microchip and antenna. The tag can be attached to an object, typically an item, box. Information is collected by chip and can be transmitted wirelessly. The RFID tag can be active (with batteries), passive (without batteries), and semi-passive (hybrid). The tag has an identification code that can be transmitted to the reader.
RFID antennas are used to collect information about any item. There are many types of RFID antennas like patch antennas, linear polarized antennas, stick antennas, adaptive antennas, gate antennas, and omnidirectional antennas.
The third component of an RFID system is an RFID reader, aka an interrogator or scanner, which sends and receives RF data to and from the tag via antennas. A reader informs the data processing system about the presence of a tagged item. It mainly consists of three main parts: control section, high-frequency interface, and antenna. Read a range of readers is affected by several factors. Antenna gain, the frequency used, the orientation of the antenna will affect read range. The reader comes in four types: Read, Read/write, fixed, and mobile.
Unlike its predecessor and traditional identification device like barcodes, RFID has a more significant number of benefits. The barcode scanner needs to be in the line of sight with the label to read the barcode. It means that the manual movement of the objects or scanner is necessary. RFID, on the other hand, can read data from tags without a line of sight. Also, no alignment is required for RFID. It acts to simplify labor, enhances visibility, and improves inventory management.
RFID has a high reading speed, and this can work in the presence of a barrier. It is more effective when a more extended read range, fast scanning, and flexible data carrying capability are required. Several frequencies are used in RFID applications: 125 kHz, 13.56 MHz, and 860-930 MHz for passive RFID; 433MHz and 2.45GHz for active RFID.
As mentioned above, RFID technology has many advantages.
- Tag detection does not require human intervention. It reduces labor costs and removes human errors from data collection.
- As no line-of-sight is necessary, tag placement is less constrained.
- RFID tags have a more extended read range compared to barcodes.
- These tags can have both read/write capabilities that barcodes lack.
- RFID tags store large amounts of data added to a unique identifier.
- Unique item identification is simple to implement in RFID than with barcodes.
- RFID tags are less sensitive to conditions like dust, chemicals, physical damage, etc.
- Multiple tags can be read simultaneously.
- Tags can be combined with sensors.
- Automatic reading reduces time lags and inaccuracies.
- Tags can also locally store additional information; such distributed data storage may increase the fault tolerance of the entire system.
- It reduces inventory control and provisioning costs.
- It reduces warranty claim processing costs.
- Interference from other frequencies
- High cost – The prices of active or semi-passive tags (at least $1 per tag) hinder their economic application.
- Overhead reading (fail to read)
- Adverse environment conditions and improper placement can corrupt reading.
- Properties of certain materials can be an obstacle to RFID application at a given frequency. They may corrupt data transmission either by absorption or by the ambient reflection of the signals.
- Collision – Attempting to read several tags simultaneously may result in a signal collision and ultimately to data loss.
- Sparse standards
- Privacy issues are becoming one of the biggest threats to RFID.
RFID technology has received more and more attention in manufacturing companies, agriculture, hospitality, industries, parking management, and transportation sectors.
RFID applications in healthcare save many essential resources and could reduce the number of errors by tagging medical objects in the healthcare setting, such as patients’ files and medical equipment tracking promptly.
RFID provides the best resource management, effective operation, and efficient transfer of packages in the airline, package, and delivery services by helping to identify, track and handle large amounts of packages from many places to various destinations on different routes.
RFID applications also make the toll collection/charging better with improved traffic flow. RFID can be used in the library for the management of books. Animal identification is one of the earliest RFID applications. The RFID tag can be injected to remain under the skin of the animal. This process is less painful, and there is no identification mark with the help of which tag can be removing or modify. RFID chip inside tag is ‘Read-only,’ so data cannot be altered. This chip contains much information like date of birth; last vaccination is done, any medical history, and distinguishing features about the animal.
The RFID tag can be attached to animals, plants, and the particular human body. The technology is capable of preventing medical accidents in the health industry. The RFID tag system can obtain and store blood pressure and body temperature. RFID sensors have found application in health care. RFID sensors have been used to monitor cardiac patients’ heart rates, identify patients for surgery, and monitor the life of dental retainers.