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What Is the Most Important Comparison Between RFID and Bar Codes?

Posted By RFID Journal, 09.10.2013

What would you say is the most significant difference between the two technologies?

—Name withheld


That is an interesting question. I guess I would have to say the biggest difference is that RFID does not require line of sight, as bar codes do. This allows you to read all tags on items within a box, for example, to protect a data carrier by embedding it in a plastic container, and to automate data collection.

With an RFID system, a person could walk past a reader portal carrying five or six clothing items on hangers, and the tags could be read automatically. This would allow inventory to be updated when items were brought to the sales floor. You cannot do that with bar codes, but you can wave a handheld RFID reader around a store and perform inventory counts very quickly. Bar codes require that a person hold each tag, orient the bar code to the scanner and read each one individually.

There are, of course, other important advantages, such as the ability to write data to a tag, but I think the line-of-sight issue is probably the most significant difference between the two technologies.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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