Have you heard of RFID Technology? Currently, RFID technology is an inexorably growing technology that offers numerous and far-reaching applications. Indeed, its importance will increase unpredictably in the future. There is no doubt that RFID will take the world by storm in the future. Here, we try to give you an overview of RFID technology and it’s applications. 

What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio frequency identification and has been around for decades. But, Its importance has increased tenfold in recent times. Because the combination of lower costs and increased capabilities has led businesses to explore what RFID can do.

RFID technology works on radio waves or radio frequencies.  That is, RFID is the wireless, non-contact use of radio frequency waves to transmit data and automatically identify and track objects.  Here, the objects can be anything, be it any item bought at the shopping mall, books in the library, or even your own car.  However, it is not only for objects.  It can be used to track animals as well as birds. 

How does RFID work?

The RFID systems usually consist of an RFID reader, RFID tags, and antennas. The RFID Tags are considered as intelligent barcodes that can talk to a networked system.

Here, we use the RFID tag to attach it to the objects we want to track.  Also, the RFID reader continuously sends radio waves to these objects within the range of the reader.  That is, these tags emit messages that can be read by special RFID readers.  Then, the RFID tags transmit its feedback signals to the reader.  Most RFID tags store some form of identification number;  For example a customer number.  An RFID reader retrieves information about the ID number and it acts accordingly.  RFID tags also contains writable memory which can store information for transmission to different RFID readers at different locations.  Hence, it can track the movement and location of the tagged item.


RFID technology is a more advanced update of barcodes.  In other words, RFID technology is very similar to the technology used in barcodes.  However, there are some major differences in its features. They are;

  1. In the case of barcodes, the object in the scanner must be in the line of sight, whereas in RFID technology it is not a line of sight technology.  So, if the object is within range of the reader, the object can recognize the reader.  It can also send feedback signals to the reader. 
  2. With RFID technology we can track multiple objects at the same time.  But with barcode we cannot track multiple objects at the same time.
  3. Barcodes can only be read and the data can never be changed, whereas RFID tags can be read and the data on the tag can be overwritten or modified as needed.

Types of RFID Tags

The RFID Tags are generally divided into three categories depending upon their source of electrical power. They are;

  1. Active: Active RFID tags have a transmitter and their own power source which is usually an integrated long-life battery. Basically, Active tags have power source for their internal circuitry and for sending response to the reader. Usually, the battery of Active RFID tags will last between 3 to 5 years. But when the battery fails, the active tag will need to be replaced.
  2. Semi passive: semi-passive RFID tags use internal batteries to power their circuits. That is, their internal circuitry has a power supply, but it relies on radio waves from the RFID reader to send a response. Because these tags contain more hardware than passive RFID tags, they are more expensive.
  3. Passive: Passive RFID tags do not have any power supply. They rely entirely on the reader as their source of power. That is, they receive power from the radio waves coming from the reader. Also, it’s  production costs is low. Hence it is less expensive compared to active and semi-passive tags. Therefore, it is widely used. That means, most of the tags which are being used today are passive tags. The Passive tags are available in many forms like Key chain, or in the size of a credit card or in a form of a label.

Types of RFID Reader

RFID readers are available in many sizes and shapes.  So, it can be a hand held reader or as big as the door size used in shopping malls.

Types of RFID Frequencies

The RFID System is operated in three frequency bands. They are Low frequency band, High frequency band and Ultra high frequency band. This frequency range varies with country to country. But majority of the Countries use to follow this Frequencies for the Operation for the RFID Tags. 

  1. Low frequency band (125kHz – 134kHz)
    • This signals can travel very short distance
    • Its frequency range is up to 10cm.
    • It is used in Animal Tracking, Access Control, Car Key-Fob.
  2. High frequency band( 13.56 MHz)
    • It can travel up to 1m.
    • It is used in DVD Kiosks, Library Books, Personal ID Cards, etc.
  3. Ultra High frequency band ( 860 – 960MHz)
    • It can travel much longer 
    • Two forms of ultra high frequency are Active RFID and Passive RFID.
    • They are used vehicle tracking, ware house, Industries, etc.

Applications of RFID Technology

RFID technology has a wide range of applications, many of which we have already discussed.  However, some of its applications are given below;

  •  Institutions like libraries, hospitals, schools, colleges etc
  •  It can be used in vehicle tracking, animal tracking and tracking shipping containers
  •  Can be used for asset tracking, personal tracking and ID badging
  •  In Counterfeit prevention.
  • In Supply chain management.
  •  Sports

Different models of RFID System

  1. RFID KEYCHAIN: The RFID Keychain is a physical device that opens or unlocks doors electronically. Because it contains a  unique microchip that the RFID reader will identify. They are widely used in Hotels, Offices, etc. Although, you can reprogram one key fob to open all doors. Hence, the management can  gain entry to the room if the customer loses the Key.
  2. HANDHELD RFID: These types of RFID readers can be used in several areas  including warehousing, manufacturing, retail, and transportation. Also, it provides maximum visibility into your enterprise assets. Mainly, these portable RFID Readers are used for Industrial Applications like, Supply chain management and Inventory management.
  3. RFID CREDIT CARD: The RFID Credit Card allows Contactless payment technology in credit cards such as MasterCard’s Pay Pass.  These Cards perform transactions without having a physical contact between the card and the terminal. Because, the cardholders only need to wave their cards in front of contactless payment terminals to complete their transactions.
  4. RFID DOOR LOCK: The RFID door locks are widely used in hotels, hospitals and Offices.It contains a card with a magnetic chip that has a computerised system which allows easy access to the door without making use of keys and locks.