Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Last updated: January 5, 2017

What Does Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Mean?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) refers to technologies that use wireless communication between an object (or tag) and interrogating device (or reader) to automatically track and identify such objects. The tag transmission range is limited to several meters from the reader. A clear line of sight between the reader and tag is not necessarily required.

Several industry groups, including the International Standards Organization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), regulate and define RFID interoperability standards.


Techopedia Explains Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Most tags contain at least one integrated circuit (IC) and an antenna. The microchip stores information and is responsible for managing the radio frequency (RF) communication with the reader. Passive tags do not have an independent energy source and depend on an external electromagnetic signal, provided by the reader, to power their operations. Active tags contain an independent energy source, such as a battery. Thus, they may have increased processing, transmission capabilities and range.

Early demonstration of RFID dates back to the 1970s. The first patent associated with RFID was issued in 1983.

Some of the most common applications for this technology include retail supply chains, military supply chains, automated payment methods, baggage tracking and management, document tracking and pharmaceutical management, to name a few.

Despite the many benefits introduced by RFID, there are security concerns. Because some tags can be read from afar, it is possible for a rogue individual to carry a customized reader to scan a RFID-enabled passport and obtain holder information from a distance.


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