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Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID)

Published on Apr 02, 2024


Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a contactless form of automatic identification and data capture. Dating back to World War II, RFID transponders were used to identify friendly aircraft. The RFID system consists of a reader, transponder, and antenna utilizing several frequency ranges. Over 40 million RFID tags will be used in 1999 with sales projected to break the one billion-dollar mark before 2003 (Frost & Sullivan, 1997).

Radio frequency identification is used in access control, asset control, and animal identification. The advantages of RFID are the capability for multiple reads, ability to be used in almost any environment, and the accuracy. The Automatic Identification Manufacturers, International Standards Organization, and the American National Standards Institute are currently developing standards.

Barcodes have been developed in the railroad business to keep track of the various cars. Out of this system of identification grew the U.P.C. (Universal Product Code) which is now used in almost all manufactured goods. UPC is used to store the manufacturer code as well as the product code in a form that can be easily read by various scanners - even from a distance. But there are limits to the use of barcodes. There must be a direct line of sight between the reader and the code. The barcode can be obscured, for example by paint. One only has read-access to the data, i.e., one cannot add new data without adding another label.

This is the point where a relatively new technology comes in: RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification). In RFID electronic chips are used to store data that can be broadcast via radio waves to the reader, eliminating the need for a direct line of sight and making it possible for "tags" to be placed anywhere on or in the product. One can even write to tags made of semiconductor chips, thus enabling updating of data. This write function introduces new capabilities, such as the updating of the manufacturing process of the attached item.

RFID first appeared in tracking and access applications during the 1980s. These wireless AIDC systems allow for non-contact reading and are effective in manufacturing and other hostile environments where bar code labels could not survive. RFID has established itself in livestock identification and automated vehicle identification (AVI) systems because of its ability to track moving objects.

To understand and appreciate the capabilities of RFID systems it is necessary to consider their constituent parts. It is also necessary to consider the data flow requirements that influence the choice of systems and the practicalities of communicating across the air interface. By considering the system components and their function within the data flow chain it is possible to grasp most of the important issues that influence the effective application of RFID.

The RFID reader is designed for fast and easy system integration without losing performance, functionality or security. The RFID reader consists of a real time processor, operating system, virtual portable memory, and transmitter/receiver unit in one small self-contained module that is easily installed in the ceiling or in any other convenient location.

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