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Can Laptops With Metal Casings Be Tracked Using Passive RFID?

Posted By RFID Journal, 08.13.2009
Is it possible to attach a passive RFID label to laptop computers that have a high level of metal in their casings? And would the range be diminished dramatically?

—Name withheld

Yes, it certainly is possible. Wells Fargo has been employing passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags based on the EPC Gen 2 standard to track laptop computers (see Wells Fargo Banks on RFID). And Cognizant reports that it has achieved 100 percent read rates with passive UHF EPC tags on its laptops (see Eating Your Own Dog Food: Cognizant Uses RFID to Track Laptops).

Read range can be diminished if a passive tag is placed in an area that has metal directly in contact with the case. There are areas, however, where there is an air gap between the plastic case and anything contained within, and this provides sufficient read range to enable tags to be read as someone passes through a portal. Keep in mind, however, that the read range is only going to be 10 or 15 feet, at best. If you require a longer read range, you will need to utilize battery-assisted or active tags.

—Mark Roberti, Editor,
RFID Journal

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