Overview of RFID Technology and Applications

Overview of RFID Technology and Applications

What is RFID?
RFID = Radio Frequency IDentification.
An ADC (automated Data Collection) technology that:

  • Uses radio-frequency waves to transfer data between a reader and a movable item to identify, categorize, track..
  • Is fast and does not require physical sight or contact between reader/scanner and the tagged item.
  • Performs the operation using low cost components.
  • Attempts to provide unique identification and back-end integration that allows for wide range of applications.

Other ADC technologies: Bar codes, OCR.

RFID systems: Logical view

RFID tags: Smart labels

RFID Examples:

RFID Tags:
Tags can be attached to almost anything:

  • Items, cases or pallets of products, high value goods
  • vehicles, assets, livestock or personnel

Passive Tags

  • Do not require power – Draws from interrogator Field
  • Lower storage capacities (few bits to 1 KB)
  • Shorter read ranges (4 inches to 15 feet)
  • Usually Write-Once-Read-Many/Read-Only tags
  • Cost around 25 cents to few dollars

Active Tags

  • Battery Powered
  • Higher storage capacities (512 KB)
  • Longer read range (300 feet)
  • Typically can be re-written by RF interrogators
  • Cost around 50 to 250 dollars

Read-only tags

  • Tag ID is assigned at the factory during manufacturing
  • Can never be changed
  • No additional data can be assigned to the tag

Write once, read many (WORM) tags

  • Data written once, e.g., during packing or manufacturing
  • Tag is locked once data is written
  • Similar to a compact disc or DVD


  • Tag data can be changed over time
  • Part or all of the data section can be locked

RFID readers

  • Reader functions:
  • Remotely power tags
  • Establish a bidirectional data link
  • Inventory tags, filter results
  • Communicate with networked server(s)
  • Can read 100-300 tags per second

Readers (interrogators) can be at a fixed point such as:

  • Entrance/exit
  • Point of sale

Readers can also be mobile/hand-held

Reader Anatomy

RFID Application Points

RFID Applications

Manufacturing and Processing

  • Inventory and production process monitoring
  • Warehouse order fulfillment

Supply Chain Management

  • Inventory tracking systems
  • logistics management


  • Inventory control and customer insight
  • Auto checkout with reverse logistics


  • Access control
  • Counterfeiting and They control/prevention

Location Tracking

  • Traffic movement control and parking management
  • Wildlife/Livestock monitoring and tracking

Smart Groceries

  • Add an RFID tag to all items in a grocery store
  • As the cart leaves the, the cart passes through an RFID transceiver.
  • The cart the gets totaled up in a matter of seconds.

Smart Cabinet

  1. Tagged item is removed from or placed in the “Smart Cabinet”
  2. The Smart Cabinet periodically interrogates to assess inventory
  3. Server/Database is updated to reflect item’s disposition
  4. Designated individual are notified regarding items that need attention (cabinet and shelf location, action required)

Smart Fridge

  • Recognizes whats been put in the fridge
  • Recognizes when things are removed
  • Creates automatic shopping lists
  • Notifies you when things are past their expiration date
  • Shows you the recipes that most closely match what is available

Smart Groceries Enhanced

Track Products through their entire lifetime.

More Smart Applications:

“Smart” Appliances:

  • Closets that advice on style depending on clothes available
  • Ovens that know recipes to cook pre-packaged food

“Smart” products:

  • Clothing, appliances, CD’s etc. Tagged for store return.

“Smart” Paper:

  • Airline tickets that indicate your location in the airport

“Smart” currency:

  • Anti-counterfeiting and tracking.

RFID Advantages over bar-codes

  • No line of sight required for reading
  • Multiple items can be read with a single scan
  • Each tag can carry a lot of data (read/write)
  • Individual items identified and not just the category
  • Passive tags have a virtually unlimited lifetime
  • Active tags can be read from great distances
  • Can be combined with bar code technology

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