What is a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID is a way of tracking assets, using electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. A scalable and cost-effective solution to tracking needs.

There are two forms of RFID: passive and active.

Active Rfid systems use battery-powered Rfid tags that broadcast a signal. Active RFID systems are used as a Real-time location system (RTLS). There are two forms of Active RFID. The first being RFID ‘transponders’ they only respond when they are asked where they are this is the best form for tracking that does not require the frequent updates of the position. Typical cost is approx $20 per tag.

The best tracking for a system that requires frequent update is RFID ‘beacons’. These beacons send our their information every 3-5 seconds. Because of their frequent information output, battery life is reduced and beacons, therefore, have a higher total cost of ownership.

Passive RFID tags have no internal power source, and hence have a short range and can only carry a small amount of data. A passive RFID system employs an RFID reader to send a signal to the antenna on the RFID tag which forces the tag to send its information back to the reader. The pro’s of Passive RFID is that it has a much cheaper cost than active (approx. $0.05) as it has no battery and is much smaller in size and tags have a longer lifetime. However, because they have no battery they have limited range and storage.

Each form of RFID has its niche market – passive RFID fits more towards tagging products and equipment for auditing purposes and anti-theft, whereas active ‘transponders’ are best suited for situations such as tolling. RFID ‘beacons’ are best suited for situations such as tracking assets which move frequently and require constant visibility.


By Andrew Kelly | Categories: Resources

About the Author : Andrew Kelly

Andrew Kelly

After completing a PHD in low power wide area networking Andrew found himself as interested in the literature as the technology itself. Andrew now writes engaging and informative prose at iottag sunny office in Melbourne, for offices across the globe.