In this day and age, wireless communication has taken the way we communicate to a whole new level. Seeing the many benefits of wireless communication, one can't help but wonder how humans survived without wireless communication in the past. The use of radio frequency identification is one of the known ways in which communication has evolved over the years.
Surprisingly, many people still don't understand how it works or what an RFID tag means. Next, we will introduce the meaning of RFID tags and how it works.
RFID is a general term for radio frequency identification technology. It is a kind of wireless communication that uses electrostatic or electromagnetic coupling in the radio frequency component of the electromagnetic spectrum. It has the advantages of fast transmission rate, anti-collision, large-scale reading, and reading during motion.
RFID tag is an integrated circuit product, which is composed of RFID chip, antenna and substrate. RFID tags come in many shapes and sizes. Some can be as small as a grain of rice. Information on these labels can include product details, location, and other important data.
RFID systems use three main components: transceivers, antennas, and transponders. The combination of a transceiver and scanning antenna is called an interrogator or RFID reader. It's worth noting, however, that there are two types of RFID readers: stationary and mobile.
RFID tags contain electronically stored information and serve as tags for object identification. Tags identify, classify and track specific assets. They contain more information and data capacity than barcodes. Unlike barcodes, in an RFID system many tags are read simultaneously and data is read from or written to the tags. You can classify RFID tags in different ways based on power, frequency, and form factor. To function, all tags require a power source to power the chip and transmit and receive data. How a tag receives power determines whether it is passive, semi-passive, or active.
RFID readers can be portable or permanently attached as network-connected devices. It uses radio waves to transmit a signal that activates the RFID tag. Once activated, the tag sends a wave to the antenna, at which point it is converted into data.
The transponder can be found on the RFID tag itself. If you look at the read ranges of RFID tags, you'll see that they vary based on a variety of factors, including RFID frequency, reader type, tag type, and interference from the surrounding environment. Interference can also come from other RFID readers and tags. Tags with powerful power supplies may also have longer read ranges.
To understand how an RFID tag works, you must first understand its components, including the antenna, integrated circuit (IC), and substrate. There is also a part of the RFID tag responsible for encoding the information, called the RFID inlay.
There are two main types of RFID tags, which vary according to the power source used.
Active RFID tags require their own power source (usually a battery) and transmitter to broadcast a signal to an RFID reader. They can store more data, have a longer read range, and are an excellent choice for high-precision solutions that require real-time tracking. They are bulkier and generally more expensive due to the batteries required. The receiver senses unidirectional transmissions from active tags.
Active RFID tags have no power source and use an antenna and an integrated circuit (IC). When the IC is within the reader's field, the reader emits radio waves to power the IC. These tags are usually limited to basic identification information, but are small in size, have a long life (20+ years) and are low in cost.
In addition to passive RFID tags, there are also semi-passive RFID tags. In these tags, communication is powered by the RFID reader and a battery is used to run the circuitry.
Many people think of smart tags as simply RFID tags. These labels have an RFID tag embedded in the self-adhesive label with a characteristic barcode. These tags can be used by barcode or RFID readers. With desktop printers, smart labels can be printed on demand, especially RFID labels require more advanced equipment.
RFID tags are used to identify and track any asset. They help increase efficiency as they can scan large numbers of labels simultaneously or labels that may be inside boxes or hidden from view.
RFID tags offer several advantages over traditional tags, including:
They do not require visual contact. Unlike barcode labels, which require visual contact with a barcode scanner, RFID tags do not require visual contact with an RFID reader to scan.
They can be scanned in batches. Traditional labels must be scanned one by one, increasing information collection time. However, RFID tags can be scanned simultaneously, making the reading process more efficient.
They can encrypt messages. The data encoded in an RFID tag can be encrypted, allowing only authorized personnel to read it, rather than allowing anyone to scan the information.
They are resistant to harsh environmental conditions. In this sense, RFID tags can withstand cold, heat, humidity or humidity.
They are reusable. Unlike barcodes, which cannot be edited after printing, the information contained in RFID chips can be changed, and RFID tags can be reused.
Given the many advantages RFID tags offer, manufacturers are slowly turning to them and ditching older barcode systems.