What is RFID technology; In this article, we will fully explain all the information about radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and enumerate its applications.
Some people have a general concept of RFID technology in mind. According to them, the general process of this technology is that you put the RFID tag on your desired goods, then you can use the RFID reader to scan the tags and collect relevant information. Although this explanation is superficially correct and shows the overall performance of this system, there are many more things you need to know to understand RFID. In this article, all the information needed to know more about this technology is fully mentioned.
The titles you will read in this article:
- What is RFID?
- What is an RFID system?
- What are the components of an RFID?
- RFID history
- What is an RFID kit?
- How does RFID work?
- Types of RFID
- RFID applications
- Uses of RFID
- Advantages and disadvantages of using RFID technology
- How to choose the best RFID?
What is RFID?
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the wireless use of radio frequency waves to transmit data at very high speeds. Labeling of various goods by RFID tags allows users to automatically and uniquely identify and track their inventory and assets. RFID is more powerful than other methods of identifying goods. Depending on the type of RFID used, this technology can detect labeled goods within a few centimeters to a few tens of meters.
One of the first uses of RFID was to identify friend and foe aircraft in World War II, and now its efficiency has changed greatly. Not only does this technology continue to grow year by year, but the cost of implementing and using the RFID system continues to decrease, making RFID more cost-effective and efficient.
What is an RFID system?
While each system will be different in terms of device type and complexity; But every RFID system consists of at least four components:
- Reader / Scanner
The simplest system can include a handheld reader with an integrated antenna that comes with RFID tags. More sophisticated versions, however, are designed using multi-port readers, GPIO boxes, multiple antennas and cables, RFID tags, and complete software settings. The following is a more complete description of these sections.
What are the components of an RFID?
The RFID system consists of several basic components. These components must work simultaneously to achieve reliable data transmission and reception. Each of these sections, which we mentioned earlier, is described below.
This part is the label of the transmitter that is installed on a platform and is programmed with unique information. The tags are activated when they pass through a radio frequency field generated by the reader antenna.
RFID tags usually do not have a battery and receive their energy from radio waves generated by the reader. When the tag receives information from the scanner / antenna, energy is transmitted to the chip via the internal antenna. On each chip, there are four memory banks called EPC, TID, User and Reservation. Each of these memory banks contains information about the items being labeled.
Hundreds of different RFID tags are available in different shapes and sizes with specific features and options.
Types of RFID tags
The same is true for RFID tags and their classification methods, as there are so many different applications for this technology. The following are the different types according to different factors:
- Shape: inlay, sticker, card, badge, hard sticker
- Frequency type: LF, NFC, HF, passive UHF, BAP, active
- Environmental factors: water resistant, temperature resistant, chemical resistant
- Personalization: Shape, size, text, encoding
- Special uses: washing tags, sensor tags, embedded tags, car tags, high memory tags
- Special ingredients: metal tags, glass tags, tags for liquid-filled devices
Reader or scanner
A reader (scanner) manages radio communications through antennas. This section can perform tasks such as sending a signal to a specific tag, coordinating the tag with the reader, and integrating all or part of the tag content. The main goal of the reader is to transmit and collect information.
The RFID reader is considered the brain of the system and is necessary for the operation of any system. This component is usually divided into two distinct types: fixed RFID scanner and portable RFID scanner. Fixed readers stay in one place and are usually mounted on walls, tables, doors or other fixed places. In contrast, we have animated readers that can be used manually that offer good flexibility.
Types of RFID readers
As mentioned earlier, the most common way to classify scanners is to classify them as fixed or movable. There are other ways to differentiate between RFID readers, including factors such as connectivity, usage, features, processing, antenna ports, and more. Here are some examples.
- Frequency range: 902 to 928 MHz USA, 868 to 868 MHz EU and others
- Connectivity options: WiFi, Bluetooth, LAN, USB, auxiliary port and more
- Available applications: HDMI, GPS, USB, camera, GPS, GPIO, 1D / 2D barcode, mobile capabilities
- Processing Capabilities: Onboard processing, without onboard processing
- Power options: Power adapter, PoE, battery, in-car, USB
- Available antenna ports: without external port, 1 port, 2 ports, 4 ports, 8 ports, 16 ports
The antenna consists of a coil with an identical network. The main purpose of the antenna is to emit electromagnetic waves generated by the reader and thus receive radio frequency signals from the transmitter.
RFID antennas are essential elements in an RFID system because they convert the RFID reader signal into RF waves that can be received by RFID tags. Without an antenna, both integrated and standalone, the RFID reader cannot send and receive signals to tags properly.
Types of antennas
Antennas, like most RFID equipment, fall into several categories to help find the best option for a particular case. Although antennas are classified according to several different factors; But the most common groupings for them are done through two factors of polarity (circular versus linear) and roughness (internal and external). Here are some examples of important factors for classifying RFID antennas.
- Frequency range: 902 to 928 MHz, 865 to 868 MHz, 860 to 960 MHz
- Polarity: Circular, linear
- Ruggedness: has internal IP rating, has external IP rating
- Installation type: shelf antenna, ground antenna, screen antenna, portal antenna
In business, just reading RFID tags is not enough; This process is not complete without the possibility of accessing and using the collected data. The software provides this link and helps to make the information obtained meaningful and practical. In general, three different types of software are involved when working with RFID information.
The first step is to see the hardware, the software on which the RFID hardware is located. This section is only responsible for setting up the device. Then there is application software that uses your collected RFID data to meet specific business needs. This section can range from inventory management software applications to employee attendance apps. There is also an intermediary between the firmware and the application that collects raw RFID data and acts as a means of sharing that data with the application software. The firmware works behind the scenes and can also give you the ability to control and monitor RFID hardware and the overall health of the system. You can consider this section as a link between other RFID components and your applications.
Reader interface layer
The reader interface layer is used as a conduit between scanners and hardware components such as computers. This is one of the lesser known parts of the system; But it should not be forgotten, which is why we mentioned it as a last resort.
Radio frequency technology has reached its peak in the twentieth century and has many applications. Acquisition of this technology is often attributed to the Russian physicist Leon Termin, who used it in 1946. But the truth is that although Terminus was able to use this technology successfully for the first time; But RFID has deeper roots in history. RFID is a combination of radar and radio technology. Radar was built in the United States in the 1920s. Scientists have pointed to the relationship between electricity and magnetism, which is the bedrock of radio broadcasting, in the early nineteenth century. Harry Stockman wrote an article in 1984 that included all previous research on the technology.
RFID technology has been used to increase the efficiency of transportation, trade and theft monitoring systems. The evolution of RFID as described below shows that libraries have benefited greatly from the widespread use of this technology.
1910-1920: Establishment of Fundamental Cases
- Radar was developed as a technology in the United States in the 1920s.
- RFID, a hybrid radio technology, was then developed.
1920 to 1930: Progress
- Britain used the IFF transmitter, RFID-related technology, to detect enemy aircraft during World War II.
1930 to 1940: The invention of RFID
- Modifications were made to the design of the radar and then RFID was invented.
- Harry Stockman published Communication by Means of Reflected Power on the subject.
1940 to 1950: Research and development time
- RFID technologies were tested in laboratories.
- Extended designs for long-range aircraft transmitter systems were introduced.
1950 to 1960: The RFID market grows
- During the 1960s, inventors used radio frequency technology for devices that targeted markets beyond the military.
- Using RFID, Sensormatic, Checkpoint, and Knogo developed anti-theft technology for the general public.
1960 to 1970: Hard work to get better
- Academics, government lab companies, and independent researchers were all developing RFID technology.
- Efforts during this period were aimed at electronically collecting tolls, tracking animals and vehicles, and factory automation.
1970 to 1980: Business development
- RFID technology was fully implemented, and Europe and the United States applied RFID to transportation systems, animal tracking, and commercial applications.
1980 to 1990: RFID normalization
- RFID is widely used by consumers and companies worldwide.
1990 to 2000: Progress
- Advanced technology makes RFID smaller.
- Its price is decreasing.
What is an RFID kit?
An RFID development kit is a kit that is usually assembled by the scanner manufacturer and has everything you need to start reading and writing information on RFID tags. Development kits are recommended as the best way to start using RFID technology because it allows people to log in and start their experiments.
Because these kits are usually made by the reader manufacturer, there are many options to choose from that combine the scanner with the antenna and some RFID tags for testing. Development kits usually include a sample program for reading and writing RFID tags.
How RFID works
RFID belongs to a group of technologies called Automatic Data Recognition (AIDC). AIDC methods automatically detect the identity of objects, collect data about them, and enter them directly into computer systems, all with little or no human intervention. RFID, meanwhile, uses radio waves to accomplish this.
To put it simply, RFID systems are made up of three components: the RFID tag or smart tag, the RFID reader, and the antenna that we talked about in detail earlier. RFID tags include an integrated circuit and antenna used to transmit data to the RFID reader. The RFID reader then converts the radio waves into a more usable form of data. Finally, the information collected from the tags is transmitted through an interface to the host computer system, where the data can be stored in a database and then analyzed.
Types of RFID
In the electromagnetic spectrum, there are three main frequency ranges for the RFID transmission process: low frequency, high frequency, and ultra-high frequency. The following is the information for each of these items.
- General frequency range: 30 to 300 kHz
- Initial frequency range: 125 to 134 kHz
- Reading range: up to 10 cm
- Average cost per tag: $ 0.75 to $ 5
- Uses: Animal tracking, access control, car keys, items with large volumes of liquids and metals
- Pros: Good performance near liquids and metals, with global standards
- Cons: Very short read range, limited memory, low data transfer speed, high production cost
- Initial frequency range: 13.56 MHz
- Reading range: up to 30 cm
- Average cost per tag: $ 0.20 to $ 10
- Uses: Movie kiosks, library books, ID cards, gaming chips, NFC apps
- Pros: Global NFC protocols, more memory options, global standards
- Cons: Short reading range, low data transfer speed
Very high frequency
General frequency range: 300 to 3000 MHz
Initial frequency range: 433 MHz, 960 to 960 MHz
There are also two types of RFID that are in the ultra-high frequency range; Active RFID and passive RFID listed below.
- Initial frequency range: 433 MHz (can use 2.45 GHz in the very high frequency range)
- Reading range: 30 to more than 100 meters
- Average cost per tag: $ 25 to $ 50
- Uses: car tracking, auto production, mining, construction, goods tracking
- Pros: Very wide read range, lower infrastructure cost (versus disabled RFID), high memory capacity, high data transfer rate
- Cons: High cost of the tag, limited shipping (due to battery), the need for complex software, high interference of metal and liquids in the work process
- Initial frequency range: 860 to 960 MHz
- Reading range: up to 25 meters
- Average cost per tag: $ 0.09 to $ 20
- Uses: Supply Chain Tracking, Production, Pharmacy, Electronic Tolls, Inventory Checking, Competition Scheduling, Product Tracking
- Pros: Wide reading range, low cost per tag, wide variety of tags in size and shape, global standards, high data transfer speed
- Cons: High equipment costs, medium memory capacity, high interference of metal and liquids
This technology has various functions, such as internal control of fixed assets, internal control of obsolete assets and prevention of theft. As mentioned earlier, RFID has two main components, the tag and the reader. When this section is scanned, the antenna detects the radio wave inside the tag and sends a response to the reader. Here are some key uses of RFID.
One of the main components of internal control of fixed assets is the physical inventory during which all the desired assets are found and recorded. The operation of the RFID system is such that it simplifies the process of identifying physical inventory. To use this technology, the RFID tag must first be attached to the products. The tag number then becomes the original product identifier because it relates to all the information available about that particular product.
During this process, the tags of each product must be scanned to record the information of each of them in the database. This information can then be printed and indexed to see which product has not reached the final stage.
Internal control of obsolete assets
Companies may also use RFID technology to label their smaller products; Because a good control system includes all the assets of the companies, especially those that may be stolen or destroyed.
The company must use a separate system or file for obsolete items; Because these are capital assets that generate periodic depreciation expense and must be adjusted for financial statements. RFID is also used to perform this process.
Prevention of theft
Companies facing high levels of theft or businesses that need to check the entry and exit of people can use the installation of tail RFID scanners in the workplace to increase the security of their business. If an employee wants to leave with a labeled item, the scanner notifies the receptionist or security guard. That way, no one can take the product out or steal it.
Uses of RFID
There are countless uses for RFID in various locations. The efficiency of this technology extends from broad areas such as inventory tracking to supply chain management and can become more specialized depending on the company or industry. In general, there are many cases to be explored by this technology, not all of which can be named. What sets RFID apart from its peers is its high speed and power, which can be effective in specific situations for large and small companies.
Here are some ways in which RFID technology can be used successfully:
- Race time tracking
- Supply Chain Management
- Tracking of pharmaceutical goods
- Inventory tracking
- IT asset tracking
- Trace clothing and fabrics
- File tracking
- Reversible Freight Tracking (RTI)
- Track participants of an event
- Access control
- Vehicle tracking
- Hospital Neonatal Tracking
- Animal tracking
- Tracking tools
- Jewelry tracking
- Retail Inventory Tracking
- Tracking pipes and pulleys
- Logistics tracking (material management)
- Movie Kiosks
- Tracking library books
- Marketing campaigns
- Instantaneous location systems
Advantages and disadvantages of using RFID technology
Radio frequency detection is an automated system. Like a barcode or magnetic stripe on a credit card, the RFID tag provides a unique identification code that can be read by a scanner. Unlike other detection systems, RFID uses radio waves to communicate with scanners. When the reader detects these waves, it converts them to digital data and identifies the object containing the tag. RFID technology has numerous advantages; But it also comes with limitations and drawbacks. In the following, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of this technology.
The RFID reader can scan the tag within the specified frequency range and has no visual limitations. In contrast, other methods are used, such as barcode scanning, which require the reader to be “close” to the scan. RFID systems can automatically detect tag IDs remotely, even in some cases despite barriers between the tag and the reader.
RFID systems can scan multiple items simultaneously. For example, you can scan incoming goods in your warehouse in a box; This process allows you to control all goods at the same time without having to scan a separate barcode on each product. Other ID systems usually have a specific or limited identifier for each object; But RFID tags can contain more information. Some of them go a step further and allow you to add new information or change old ones.
You can also put special tags inside the product or use plastic covers to protect them. This makes them stronger than other models. For example, barcodes must be located on the outside of products, which makes them more likely to break down and not be able to be easily scanned over time.
RFID speed and convenience
RFID scanners can scan tags in milliseconds and work automatically. Optical scanning systems may require manual operation and may operate even slower; Because the operator has to fine-tune the reader and code to make the scan process successful. The high speed of this technology is also very efficient for services such as payment. For example, certain locations, such as amusement parks, allow visitors to transfer their money to RFID wristbands so that they can use them to pay for each device, thus speeding up. This way, visitors do not have to carry a wallet and may spend less time in the queue.
Although RFID technology has been around since the 1970s; But high initial costs limit its use to larger businesses. Although costs are declining, setting up and using RFID systems is usually more expensive than alternative systems such as optical scanning. However, RFID systems have their own advantages, such as reducing labor costs and improving efficiency.
Despite RFID’s reliability, this system can still have problems. Although scanners can pass through most non-metallic materials and scan the RFID tag; But they have problems with metal and water. The fact that you can scan multiple objects within a certain range is an advantage; But it also has potential problems that can lead to malfunctions. If the scanner receives a signal from several different tags simultaneously, this may cause interference. It is even possible for two scanners to receive signals while working and have problems.
RFID Security and Privacy Tips
How to choose the best RFID?
If after reading this article you have decided to use RFID in your business; But you do not know how to choose the best RFID for your purpose, this part of the article is written for you. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right RFID.
As mentioned earlier, this system typically uses low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra high frequency (UHF) electromagnetic waves. To communicate properly, tags and scanners must operate at the same frequency.
Bandwidth is a scarce resource, and because of this limitation, each country sets rules that specify the frequency range for RFID transmission. When choosing an antenna, make sure you select the frequency range that is most suitable for your area, otherwise your system will not work.
Most RFID antennas are polar circular or linear polar. When we say antennas are linearly polarized, we mean that antennas transmit radio frequency waves on a single plane (horizontally or vertically). Circular polar antennas, on the other hand, transmit radio frequency waves in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. When the antennas are facing each other, they emit waves in the same direction; There may be a problem where the waves overlap. Therefore, it is important to determine the polarization of the antennas to maximize RFID performance.
Choose antennas with higher gain. The higher the gain, the narrower the beam width. However, higher gain antennas create a narrower area; But the narrow beam will travel longer distances.
Finally, it should be noted that RFID technology is evolving and can be used more in the not too distant future. So far, various creative uses have been considered for it; But we may see it used in other places as well. In general, RFID is a very fast and easy way to track and track various items, and we hope to see more progress as this can also reduce its cost. As a result, lower prices can be expected to be used in smaller businesses.
What do you guys think about this technology? Have you ever used it?