Is this a feasible use of RFID technology? I need to evaluate the distance from a tag to a reader, up to 10 meters (32.8 feet). What type of hardware and software would I need, and what would it cost?
RFID technology is probably not the right choice for your needs. Passive UHF RFID tags can be read at a distance of around 5 to 7 meters (16.4 to 23 feet). What's more, when a tag is worn near the human body, the read range is shorter and it can sometimes be difficult to interrogate the tag at all. The human body is composed mostly of water, which absorbs RF energy in the UHF spectrum, preventing the energy from reaching the tag and interfering with performance.
You could use battery-assisted UHF tags. These act like passive tags but have a battery to power them up, enabling them to be read at longer distances and more consistently. Batter-assisted passive tags cost $1 apiece or more, so if you have a lot of people visiting the fair and they throw away their tag at the end of their trip, it could become very expensive. You would also need to place readers and antennas around the fair. Readers cost from $500 to $2,000 each uninstalled, depending on their features and capabilities. You would need to run electric power to them and then install poles on which to mount them. Again, this could become very costly.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal