Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

The Many Flavors of RFID

With the proliferation of radio frequency identification systems, many people wonder: Just what is RFID?
By Mark Roberti
Apr 01, 2010—To clear up the confusion, first we define RFID as any system that involves the identification of objects—or people, locations, even transactions—remotely via radio waves for the purpose of tracking, monitoring or managing those objects. Active and passive systems are the vanilla and chocolate of RFID, and each has many applications. A real-time locating system (RTLS), for example, can use active or passive RFID to monitor the movement of objects in real or near-real time. Now let's look at what other technologies you can order at the RFID bar.

Chipless RFID: The term "chipless" is often used to describe RFID systems in which the transponder uses a microchip that's either printed or made of polymer rather than silicon. They perform the same way as passive RFID systems that use silicon microchips. A real chipless tag system is one in which there is no semiconductor of any kind. Among these are systems that use metal fibers or RF resonant inks. Readers capture a signal and convert it to a serial number to identify an object, so it can be tracked and managed.

Contactless smart card: The Smart Card Alliance claims that contactless smart cards are not RFID, but they clearly are. That's because the cards use RFID transponders and air interface protocol standards, which govern how tags and readers communicate, to transfer data from the card to the reader. Unlike passive systems used for inventory applications, the tags use encryption to protect data on the card and data transmitted to the reader.

Infrared and ultrasound: These technologies are technically not RFID, in that they don't use the radio portion of the electromagnetic spectrum—infrared uses light and ultrasound uses sound waves. Systems that use these technologies function similarly to RFID systems: The tag broadcasts an ID and a reader receives it. Light and sound behave differently from radio waves, which make them appropriate for some applications and not for others. Some RTLSs use a combination of RFID and infrared technologies.

Near-Field Communications: NFC is a short-range RFID technology that allows data to be passed back and forth from a reader to a tag. In NFC systems, unlike in other RFID systems, the tag can actually act like a reader and collect data.

RFID sensor networks: Each sensor in these networks has its own power source and a unique ID. If a sensor doesn't have a unique ID—or if the unique ID isn't used to determine which object or location is, say, hot or cold—the device is simply a wireless sensor. The sensors communicate with each other, forming a mesh network, and one node passes the data to a computer connected to back-end systems.

Wi-Fi: The Wi-Fi system that allows your laptop to connect to the Internet isn't RFID. But a Wi-Fi network can be used to identify and track the approximate location of people or objects. Several companies have developed tags that transmit their ID to a base station, and software that uses the ID to locate the tagged object.

RFID Journal will continue to serve up information on all flavors of RFID.
To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 512 words and 1 page. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations