How Does an RFID-based Book-Borrowing System Deactivate a Tag—and Can I Use an NFC-enabled Smartphone for This Purpose?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsHow Does an RFID-based Book-Borrowing System Deactivate a Tag—and Can I Use an NFC-enabled Smartphone for This Purpose?
RFID Journal Staff asked 5 years ago

Please describe how an RFID self-checkout library machine turns off the theft byte code in a 13.56 MHz RFID tag during book borrowing. Can I use my NFC-enabled phone to read and write to that tag, as well as activate or deactivate it during self-checkout?

—Vinod

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Vinod,

Such a machine does not deactivate anything. When you swipe your library card and check out a book, its tag ID number is read, the book’s status is updated to “checked out” and your name is associated with that action. When you pass through the security gate, the tag ID is again interrogated and the system looks up the book’s status. If that status is “checked out,” then no alarm sounds.

You can use your Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled phone to read a 13.56 MHz tag in a book if it is an NFC tag. It’s unlikely you would be able to write to it, though, unless the library made a mistake and purchased read-write tags. You certainly would not be able to change the book’s status, as that would be handled by the library’s back-end software.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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