RFID is a technological innovation that allows wireless data collection using readers from electronic tags that are normally tied or engrafted in goods. RFID uses radio waves to transmit data between a readers an electronic tag that is normally tied to goods. It is usually used to identify and track packages, containers, payment systems, medical assets, animals, people, and in security systems. Although this performs the same duties as those performed by bar codes, unlike bar codes that are used to identify goods in a store when the code is exposed to a line of sight, RFID readers can be used identify tags from some distance, so long they are detected.
Further, unlike bar codes that are read one at a time, numerous RFID tags can be read at time so long as they are some reasonable distance from the reader. There exist two types of RFID namely passive and active RFID. In the former case, the RFIDS do not have a battery, where as the latter has batteries that are used to beacon the signal. On the other hand, RFID readers are also of two types namely fixed RFID readers and Mobile RFID readers. Fixed readers are used to identify tags in static positions; hence, they are usually put in specific interrogation areas, while mobile readers identify tags while in motion. In addition, there exist three types of RFID tags namely active, passive, and battery assisted (BAP) tags.
Unlike active tags that require a power source to transmit signals, passive tags do not require a battery but they require an external electromagnetic field to pass the required signals. Different from these two types of tags, the a BAP RFID tag requires a power source to make it start working, after which its high forward link power will aid it to transmit the required signals(Weis, (n.d), p. 1-19).
The Working Mechanism of the RFID System
An RFID system has three main components namely an antenna or coil, a transceiver that has a decoder, and a transponder (tag) that contains specific data about an object. When the antenna emits radio signals, the tag is activated and its data can be read easily. The activation of the tag makes it easy for the reader to detect and read it once it passes through an electromagnetic region. After the reader has detected the activation signal, the reader decodes the information contained in the integrated circuit of the tag and transmits the information to the controlling computer. The data transmitted is used to identify the properties of the item with the tag and even its location (Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility, 2010, p.1).
Advantages of RFID
The RFID technology has revolutionised the way that organizations use to track their products or employees, because of its ability to track even goods that are in motion. One primary advantage of this technology is its flexibility and simplicity during, because all it requires are three components and only one attached or embedded in the property to be tracked. In addition, unlike bar codes that can be replicated, it is almost impossible to replicate this technology; hence, it is a more secure method of protecting property. When used in stores, this technology can make most business processes such as stock taking, transportation, and logistics of good easy, because of the ability of RFID readers to read even goods in motion.
Further, this tracking method in cheaper in the long run as compared to using the barcode system, as it requires less manpower and funds to run it once it is operational. On the other hand, as compared to bar codes, RFID tags usually have a bigger data capacity; hence, can carry enough information that is required to identify a product. Finally, RFID tags can be read even while they are in motion and they are more efficient in harsh conditions such as wet environments (Tickets, 2011, p.1)..
Although RFIDS are cost effective in the long run, buying and installing the entire RFID system is a very expensive venture, although they are the most effective way of tracking goods. In addition, although RFID readers have the ability to read tags in motion, sometimes these readers cannot read tags that are embedded in some materials such as liquids and metal products. Another primary disadvantage of this technology is tag and reader collision. This like scenario occurs in environments with numerous tags that are supposed to be read, which result in signal interference. On the other hand, to some level this technology can invade the privacy of individuals, more so when used to illegally or legally track the position of certain properties that have certain tags (Weis, (n.d), pp. 16-20)
Regulations of Using the RFID technology
Although there is a variation in the type of laws that different governments and organisations have set to control the use of this technology, most of these rules share numerous concepts. Some of these concepts include specifications on the reading distance and speed, the use of this technology in humans, the need to maintain a competitive position when using this technology, and respect of private privacy of customers with goods that have goods with RFID tags. There are also rules that have been set to manage the retention and disposal of RFID records and reduce the number of security threats that face this technology, because it being a human development it is susceptible to theft (Smith, 2006, pp. 39-42).
Association for Automatic identification and Mobility. Technologies: RFID. AIM. Web.
Smith, D. B. (2006). Using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in Humans and the united states for total control. Web.
Tickets, C. (2011). Advantages and disadvantages of RFID. Web.
Weis, S. A. (n.d). RFID (Radio Frequency Identification): principles and applications. MIT CSAIL. Web.