Can RFID Tags Be Embedded in Documents and Store Their Contents?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsCan RFID Tags Be Embedded in Documents and Store Their Contents?
RFID Journal Staff asked 13 years ago

Can a tag be embedded in trade licenses, municipality documents, land registrations and so forth, with the contents of those documents stored on the tag's microchip?

—Name withheld


RFID can be embedded in documents to identify and authenticate them, but you can not store the contents of those documents on the microchip.

Hitachi, the Japanese semiconductor company, has created a tiny RFID transponder, known as a µ-Chip (pronounced "mu-chip"), that measures just 0.3 millimeter (0.1 inch) square, which is slightly larger than a grain of sand (see Hitachi Unveils Smallest RFID Chip). The chip can be embedded in documents—indeed, that is what it was designed for—but it can store only a 128-bit serial number. There is no user memory to write the contents of a license to.

The µ-Chip employs a proprietary serial-numbering scheme developed by Hitachi, and has been used to authenticate products (see Airgate Offering Product Authentication Platform). The firm has also created anti-counterfeiting labels with the µ-Chip embedded in the label (see Cosmetics and Liquor Companies Assess Toppan Printing's Holographic RFID Labels).

In addition, there are chipless RFID systems that could be utilized to identify and authenticate documents—but again, they would not be able to store those documents' contents. One such system, developed by Inkode, uses aluminum fibers that can be embedded randomly in paper during the manufacturing process (see 1-Cent RFID Tags for Supermarkets). When the paper is hit with RF energy, the metal filings reflect back the radio waves in a unique pattern. Computers associate a specific pattern with a particular piece of paper. As such, the system can be used to authenticate goods.

A startup firm known as Tego offers a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag with 32 kilobytes of memory, which would allow you to store the contents of a document on a tag and read it back using a passive RFID reader (see Tego Launches 32-Kilobyte EPC RFID Tag). However, you would need to affix the tag to the back of each document, as it would be too large to embed in paper.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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