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The Differences Between RFID and RTLS

While both help in identifying particular locations, there are various differences between the two technologies.
By Simon Parker

The various components of RTLS technology include Wi-Fi, ultrasound, Bluetooth, ultra-wideband (UWB), ZigBee, second-generation infrared and legacy infrared. Using triangulation software, some of these components offer an approximate location of a tagged commodity or person.

One problem with using RFID is that a user cannot determine if a product is situated to the left or right of a wall, since radio frequency signals cannot penetrate through floors, walls or ceilings. Infrared technology, in order to work flawlessly, needs a clear line of sight, as any hindrance in the field of sight can block signals, thereby leading to slightly distorted results. To obtain improved results, infrared can be combined with active RFID so that the technology can read through walls and other obstacles.

Ultrasound does not perform as well as the other options when it comes to a communication mechanism, due to its longer wavelengths that make it slower when compared to infrared. Wi-Fi is clearly the preferred technology used in the majority of locations, but its accuracy is limited to only 30 feet, which limits its popularity when it comes to tracking locations.

What Makes RTLS So Precise?
RTLS makes the best use of complementing software solutions by eliminating the weakness of individual software products, so that it can deliver clinical-grade precision to identify the location of a tagged object or person. RTLS delivers results that are safe, quick, reliable and exact, making it a valuable technology for so many industries that rely on locating their indispensable materials and manpower. Along with pinpointing an exact location, it also makes it possible for users to streamline processes, measure performance and predict the tools that will need to be incorporated.

Both of the technologies discussed above are great ways of assisting security professionals in determining the location of an object or person. While RTLS needs no intervention and manages to carry out automatic location readings to give precise locations of individuals or objects, RFID, on the other hand, detects if a tagged object has passed through a fixed designated stationary point. It does not necessarily report the current location that a business looks for, but will deliver last-seen results, thereby making it unsuitable to track down assets and personnel. Both RTLS and RFID technologies are great security solutions to aid in tracking the locations of people and items.

Simon Parker has more than 70 years of shared experience with Minerva Security, dealing with commercial business security and fire alarm systems.

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