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Is a GPS Tracking Chip the Same as an RFID Chip?

Posted By RFID Journal, 09.05.2014

Do these terms describe the same technology?

—Name withheld


No. A Global Positioning System (GPS) chip is a microchip that is used in a GPS receiver, which receives signals from four or more of the 27 GPS satellites currently orbiting Earth. A GPS device can calculate its position based on the amount of time it takes to receive a signal from each of the four satellites.

An RFID chip, on the other hand, is a microchip that is put into a passive, battery-assisted or active RFID transponder. The transponder receives a signal from a reader on Earth and sends a signal back to that reader. Many systems communicate with just one reader and can tell you that a tagged object is within range of that device. Real-time location systems (RTLS) that employ RFID send out a signal at regular intervals. Interrogators set up within the area receive that signal, after which computers use triangulation and other methods to determine the tagged objects' locations. But an RFID transponder does not communicate with satellites unless it also has a built-in GPS receiver.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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