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Is It Possible to Perform RFID Location Tracking With a Smartphone?

Posted By RFID Journal, 08.20.2013

Would NFC technology be able to accomplish this?

—Name withheld


Some smartphones come with a Near Field Communication (NFC) reader. NFC is a short-range form of RFID technology designed to have a limited read range, since it can be used for financial transactions, so it has limited use as a location-tracking solution. There are passive readers that can plug into a smartphone, as well as software for managing tagged objects. RFID Journal worked with Microelectronics Technology Inc. (MTI) and Enso Detego on such a solution, which we called RFID Journal's Find-IT. Other solutions exist, including one from U Grok It (see U Grok It Wants to Help Consumers and Small Businesses Find Their Stuff).

Location tracking involves reading at fairly long distances. This is something RFID doesn't offer via phones—yet. There is a Bluetooth product known as Tile, created by a startup called Reveal Labs, which has raised more than $2 million via crowd-sourcing and preordering (see Who Says RFID Tags Pose a Privacy Risk or Are Too Costly?). Tiles sell for $19 each and can be located from 50 to 150 feet away. The read distance is useful for locating your remote control or car keys, but the price seems steep for personal use. In addition, since the device operates via Bluetooth, it requires a battery—but batteries require recharging or replacing, which could be a problem if you've stuck the Tile to your laptop.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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