Radio-frequency identification is the method of uniquely identifying items using radio waves. The RFID system consists of a reader, an antenna, and a tag. When the reader sends an interrogating signal to the tag via the antenna, the antenna responds with its unique information.
There are Active and Passive RFID tags. Active tags have their own energy source and have a read range of up to 100 meters. Passive tags do not have their own energy source and have a read range of up to 25 meters.
There are three main frequency ranges used in RFID – Low frequency, High frequency, and Ultra-high frequency. NFC is a subset of RFID and is a branch of high-frequency RFID and operates at 13.56MHz.
Future Possibilities and Solutions
RFID has been in existence for more than a decade now, but with reducing costs it opens up a host of possibilities for organizations across sectors. Some examples would include:
Enhancing shopping experience: RFID has had a significant impact in the retail sector; it has changed the way retail stores operate. With the reduced costs, it can be expected to increase coverage of items with RFID tags. From the customers' perspective, RFID helps to find a product either online or in-store easily and minimizes check-out time making it hassle-free shopping experience. From the retail stores' perspective, the technology helps track merchandise and helps analyze what products sell and what do not. The sales personnel in the store benefit from data gathered through RFID to upsell or cross-sell to their customers.
Automated checkouts: In the near future RFID might altogether eliminate the need for queuing in the stores. Combined with NFC, RFID could help customers pick the product, get it scanned, and pay for the same, all at the same time thereby completely automating the purchase or checkout process.
Optimized Inventory Usage: With RFID, the inventory can be tracked to the last item and made available for selling over online
Data analysis: RFID will change the way data is gathered and analyzed from physical goods and assets. Various stakeholders from manufacturers to retailers will gain immensely through data gathered from RFID tags.
Secured assets: The safety and security of assets and products are enhanced through RFID. RFID devices, such as fobs, smart cards, and wristbands can be used as electronic keys. This achieves two objectives – one, it prevents theft and two, it provides control on who can access what within the factory premises, thereby enhancing the overall security of the place. The future of RFID technology could see the integration of more sensors into a device to enable better control, management, and monitoring of fixed assets which in turn will enhance the safety and operational efficiency of these assets.
Track and Trace: Children or employees in harsh environments can have RFID tags on them which would help track and trace. RFID is also used in Track and trace of shipping items and baggage in Airlines. Customers/travellers are kept informed about the status of their items/baggage.
Smart infrastructure: The ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID tags come with the advantages of enabling high-speed data transfer at long ranges. This will be useful in areas such as the development of smart cities and smart infrastructure.
Market data suggests that, in the next decade, RFID technology will be a more commonplace and might become an integral part of any business process that involves handling of physical items.
Sasken is a specialist in Product Engineering and Digital Transformation providing concept-to-market, chip-to-cognition R&D services to global leaders in Semiconductor, Automotive, Industrials, Smart Devices & Wearables, Enterprise Grade Devices, Satcom and Transportation industries.
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