Do You Know the Elements of a Basic RFID System?

Imagine going grocery shopping after a tiring day at the office. After buying the necessities all you want to do is checkout faster and go home. But long queues at the checkout counters just add to your tiredness and frustration. However, soon these lines could be a thing of past. Imagine going to the grocery store, buying your grocery and walking right out of the store without having to wait in long queues at the checkout counters with your purchase totalled automatically and your bill sent to your bank. This will be made possible by RFID one day in the near future.

What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) and it is a wireless communication system which uses radio waves to identify and track objects, animals, or humans. You have probably used RFID technology in many places without even realizing. If you have passed through an automated highway toll booth or entered a theme park with wristbands provided by them, you have used RFID. RFID technology has been around since a long time. Earlier its use was limited mainly to tracking animals or tracking big items. But over the last few years, it has unknowingly become a part of our lives as it is increasingly being used in almost all walks of life such as healthcare, retail stores, highway toll tags and even national security.

How Does RFID Work?

So, what exactly is RFID and how does it work? An RFID system consists of two parts: an RFID Reader and an RFID Tag. A Reader reads information contained in a Tag and for this purpose there is no need of a physical contact between the two nor does the tag need to be in the line-of-sight of the reader for scanning. The RFID reader (or interrogator) features a transceiver which transmits an encoded radio signal to interrogate the tag. This radio signal activates the Tag which then responds to the Reader and helps in identifying/locating an object, animal or person. A tag can be read from up to a distance of several feet. Some of the RFID Readers as well as the RFID Tags have read and write capabilities. Furthermore, there are two broad categories of the RFID system: Active RFID and Passive RFID. Active Readers can read battery powered Active RFID tags from a long range whereas a passive tag with a battery is activated only in the presence of an RFID reader. Importantly all these RFID Readers and Tags function at variable frequencies such as low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF). LF readers/tags function in the range of 125 kHz – 134 kHz, HF at 13.56 MHz and UHF in the range of 865 MHz -868 MHz or 902 MHz – 928 MHz. Some readers/tags also work at the frequency of 2.45 GHz and 433 MHz. Until recently RFID technology was considered too expensive to be used on a large scale. Lack of common RFID standards and regulations also held back the development of RFID technology. However, continuing research and advances in tagging technology have led to mass production which has in turn led to reduction in prices. RFID is already making waves in important fields like healthcare, national security and the Internet of Things (IOT). This technology has a huge future ahead and as it keeps evolving rapidly, so will its applications.  ]]>

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