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What Is RFID?

Posted By RFID Journal, 07.09.2009
What is the definition of RFID?

—Name withheld

That really depends on whom you ask. RFID, of course, stands for "radio frequency identification," which our glossary defines as "any method of identifying unique items using radio waves."

Some insist that RFID is limited to simple devices that only identify objects. More advanced networking devices that have an operating system and sensors, they claim, are too sophisticated to be RFID.

This argument doesn't make a lot of sense to me, however—it's a bit like saying a handheld computer isn't a computer because it has less computing power than a desktop computer. If it computes, it's a computer—and if it identifies via radio waves, it's RFID.

Sometimes, a sensor doesn't need to identify an object or location, but in most cases, identification is critical, because you need to know which object or location the sensory data pertains to. Therefore, these systems are RFID.

By the way, you can get definitions for many other RFID terms by visiting our glossary, or by clicking on highlighted terms in stories—a feature we developed years ago, in order to help readers get up to speed with RFID terms. You can also turn this feature off by clicking on "Turn Definitions Off" in the Tools box in every article.

Mark Roberti, Editor,
RFID Journal

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