Automatic Identification

What Does Automatic Identification Mean?

Automatic identification (auto ID) is a process of automatic data identification via a set of methods, technologies and devices, such as bar code readers, radio frequency identification (RFID), magnetic stripe cards/readers and optical memory cards. These technologies are used for the automatic detection and identification of data objects. Captured information is entered into a computer system without direct human involvement.


Auto ID is usually applied to scenarios involving logistics and warehouse inventory, where the processing of many objects requires fast tracking beyond human capability and capacity.

Auto ID is also known as Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) and automatic data capture.

Techopedia Explains Automatic Identification

RFID technology is a relatively recent auto ID component but is commonly used because of its flexibility and affordability – ideal for logistics, such as tracking large quantities of objects. Bar code technology, which is more “hands-on” than RFID, remains a viable alternative because it requires minimal human intervention.

For example, a grocery store employee scans a bar code at checkout, and the computer (bar code reader) handles the rest of the transaction data. This process is also implemented in factory settings, where objects pass through an RFID reader via a conveyor belt. Additionally, RFID tags attach to most surfaces and may be produced in mass quantities.

An RFID reader may be used to track the exact location of an object in a large warehouse via reader proximity detection, which facilitates inventory organization. RFID is also used as a theft prevention tool. For example, department store clothing items have hidden security tags. If a tagged item is not deactivated after purchase and then scanned by the reader, an alarm is triggered.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…