Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) – Technology and Applications

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a general term used to describe a system that transmits the identity in the form of a unique serial number of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves. It’s grouped under the broad category of automatic identification technologies.


In RFID systems, an item is tagged with a tiny silicon chip and an antenna; the chip and antenna together called a “tag” can then be scanned by a reader, using radio waves the “RF”. The chip can be encoded with a unique identifier, allowing tagged items to be individually identified by a reader (the “ID”). Proximity (short range) and Vicinity (long range) are two major application areas where RFID technology is used. Track and trace applications are long range or vicinity applications.  In each case, a reader must scan the tag for the data it contains and then send that information to a database, which interprets the data stored on the tag. The tag, reader, and database are the key components of an RFID system.


RFID system consists of three components; an antenna or coil, a transceiver, a transponder (RF tag) electronically programmed with unique information. An antenna or coil radiates radio signals to activate the tag and to read or write by reader in the ranges of anywhere from one inch to 100 feet or more, depending upon its power output and the radio frequency used. When an RFID tag passes through its electromagnetic zone, it detects the reader’s activation signal. The reader decodes the data encoded in the tag’s integrated circuit (silicon chip) and the data is passed to the host computer for processing.


The purpose of an RFID system is to enable data to be transmitted by a movable device, called a tag, which is read by an RFID reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application.


Applications of RFID Technology


Keyless Hotel Room

When hotel guests wear an RFID wristband empowered as an electronic room key, they never have to worry about where they left access card or key. It’s always on the wrist, which eliminates lost keys. By simply presenting the


wristband to the RFID-enabled door lock, each guest has secure access to their hotel room. The same RFID wristbandmay also be used to rent lockers, or access gym facilities and business centers. These added conveniences are proven in the industry to enhance the overall guest experience.


Electronic payment system

One of the most popular uses of RFID today is to pay for road tolls without stopping. These active systems have caught on in many countries, and quick service restaurants are experimenting with using the same active RFID tags to pay for meals at drive-through windows.


RFID is used to track parts and work in process and to reduce defects, increase throughput and manage the production of different versions of the same product.


Supply Chain Management
RFID technology has been used in closed loop supply chains or to automate parts of the supply chain within a company’s control for years. As standards emerge, companies are increasingly turning to RFID to track shipments among supply chain partners.


People Tracking

Hospital uses RFID tags for tracking their special patients. In emergency patient and other essential equipment can easily track. It will be mainly very useful in mental care hospitals where doctors can track each and every activity of the patient. Hospitals also use these RFID tags for locating and tracking all the activities of the newly born babies.


All these applications are already in our environment without notice and it would be deployed continuously as there would be more needs for wireless connectivity, e-payments systems (e.g PoS using NFC), asset tracking, access control and so on. Embedded system experts need to follow the trend always and tail their designs toward the current technology.


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