Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is simply, an improved version of the barcode concept. It is a type of wireless communication capable of identifying and tracking objects through (as the name implies) radio frequencies. It works pretty much in the same way as barcodes – objects, be it items, animals, or even humans sometimes, have an RFID tag fitted onto them, which like a barcode, contains the information about the object it is fixed to; this RFID tag is then scanned by a RFID reader, the equivalent of a barcode reader. Unlike a barcode however, the RFID tag is very small – it can be as small as a grain of rice; and unlike barcode scanners, RFID readers can read even a thousand tags all at once! Furthermore, the tags can have their information updated, so RFID is basically a digital version of the barcode concept.
RFID is nowadays used widely in all sorts of industries. Its most common usages range from the tracking of goods and products along supply lines or warehouses, to tracking counterfeit pharmaceuticals in the hospitals and medicine industries. While not yet popularized, there are various projects to implement RFID in schools, libraries and the like – in schools, for example, to keep track of students’ and staff attendance and in libraries to serve as a much more convenient method of keeping track of books and digital media like CDs.
There are basically two types of RFID systems, with their main difference lying in how the RFID tags operate:
• Active RFID systems – in these systems, the RFID tag has its very own transmitter and power source, which is usually a battery. Basically, the RFID tag is capable of transmitting its information to a reader by itself (i.e. if you think of a barcode system, the barcode would be sending the information written on it to the scanner – this however cannot happen, and is one of the many limitations barcodes have in comparison to RFID). In these systems, the tags can be even more than a hundred metres away from the readers, and yet be successfully identified. They are however more expensive, as the tags require a separate power source.
• Passive RFID systems – in these systems, the RFID tag does not have its own power source, which makes it very similar to a barcode.
It relies on the energy transmitted by the RFID reader, and therefore the range of operation shrinks to a little over ten metres at most. Passive RFID systems however are much more cost effective, as their tags do not require a separate power source.
RFID is still a novel concept, it being practically non-existent in the developing regions of the world. However, it holds much potential and its usage has gradually, but definitely grown over the years. After all, there is no limit on to how it could be used – the probabilities are endless.
No related posts.
Categories: Business Services