Rfid has now become the most alluring Topic because this has been the revolutionary in the field of Electronics….some of its applications are also given below….
Long checkout lines at the grocery store are one of the biggest complaints about the shopping experience. Soon, these lines could disappear when the ubiquitous Universal Product Code (UPC) bar code is replaced by smart labels, also called radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags are intelligent bar codes that can talk to a networked system to track every product that you put in your shopping cart.
Imagine going to the grocery store, filling up your cart and walking right out the door. No longer will you have to wait as someone rings up each item in your cart one at a time. Instead, these RFID tags will communicate with an electronic reader that will detect every item in the cart and ring each up almost instantly. The reader will be connected to a large network that will send information on your products to the retailer and product manufacturers. Your bank will then be notified and the amount of the bill will be deducted from your account. No lines, no waiting.
Outside the realm of retail merchandise, RFID tags are tracking vehicles, airline passengers, Alzheimer’s patients and pets. Soon, they may even track your preference for chunky or creamy peanut butter. Some critics say RFID technology is becoming too much a part of our lives — that is, if we’re even aware of all the parts of our lives that it affects.
In this article, you’ll learn about the types of RFID tags and how these tags can be tracked through the entire supply chain. We’ll also look at the non-commercial uses of RFID tags and how the Departments of State and Homeland Security are using them. Lastly, we’ll examine what some critics consider an Orwellian application of RFID tags in animals, humans and our society.
Reinventing the Bar Code
Almost everything that you buy from retailers has a UPC bar code printed on it. These bar codes help manufacturers and retailers keep track of inventory. They also give valuable information about the quantity of products being bought and, to some extent, by whom the products are being bought. These codes serve as product fingerprintsmade of machine-readable parallel bars that store binary code.
Created in the early 1970s to speed up the check out process, bar codes have a few disadvantages:
- In order to keep up with inventories, companies must scan each bar code on every box of a particular product.
- Going through the checkout line involves the same process of scanning each bar code on each item.
- Bar code is a read-only technology, meaning that it cannot send out any information.
RFID tags are an improvement over bar codes because the tags have read and write capabilities. Data stored on RFID tags can be changed, updated and locked. Some stores that have begun using RFID tags have found that the technology offers a better way to track merchandise for stocking and marketing purposes. Through RFID tags, stores can see how quickly the products leave the shelves and who’s buying them.
In addition to retail merchandise, RFID tags have also been added to transportation devices like highway toll passcards and subway passes. Because of their ability to store data so efficiently, RFID tags can tabulate the cost of tolls and fares and deduct the cost electronically from the amount of money that the user places on the card. Rather than waiting to pay a toll at a tollbooth or shelling out coins at a token counter, passengers use RFID chip-embedded passes like debit cards.
RFID Tags Past and Present
RFID technology has been around since 1970, but until recently, it has been too expensive to use on a large scale. Originally, RFID tags were used to track large items, like cows, railroad cars and airline luggage, that were shipped over long distances, These original tags, called inductively coupled RFID tags, were complex systems of metal coils, antennae and glass.
Inductively coupled RFID tags were powered by a magnetic field generated by the RFID reader. Electrical current has an electrical component and a magnetic component — it is electromagnetic. Because of this, you can create a magnetic field with electricity, and you can create electrical current with a magnetic field. The name “inductively coupled” comes from this process — the magnetic field inducts a current in the wire. You can learn more in How Electromagnets Work.
Capacitively coupled tags
were created next in an attempt to lower the technology’s cost. These were meant to be disposable tags that could be applied to less expensive merchandise and made as universal as bar codes. Capacitively coupled tags used conductive carbon ink instead of metal coils to transmit data. The ink was printed on paper labels and scanned by readers. Motorola’s BiStatix RFID tags were the frontrunners in this technology. They used a silicon chip that was only 3mm wide and stored 96 bits of information. This technology didn’t catch on with retailers, and BiStatix was shut down in 2001 .
Newer innovations in the RFID industry include active, semi-active, and passive RFID tags. These tags can store up to 2 kilobytes of data and are composed of a microchip, antenna, and, in the case of active and semi-passive tags, a battery. The tag’s components are enclosed within plastic, silicon or sometimes glass.
At a basic level, each tag works in the same way:
- Data stored within an RFID tag’s microchip waits to be read.
- The tag’s antenna receives electromagnetic energy from an RFID reader’s antenna.
- Using power from its internal battery or power harvested from the reader’s electromagnetic field, the tag sends radio waves back to the reader.
- The reader picks up the tag’s radio waves and interprets the frequencies as meaningful data.
Inductively coupled and capacitively coupled RFID tags aren’t used as commonly today because they are expensive and bulky. In the next section, we’ll learn more about active, semi-passive and passive RFID tags.
- Automotive – Auto-makers have added security and convenience into an automobile by using RFID technology for anti-theft immobilizers and passive-entry systems.
- Animal Tracking – Ranchers and livestock producers use RFID technology to meet export regulations and optimize livestock value. Wild animals are tracked in ecological studies, and many pets who are tagged are returned to their owners.
- Asset Tracking – Hospitals and pharmacies meet tough product accountability legislation with RFID; libraries limit theft and keep books in circulation more efficiently; and sports and entertainment entrepreneurs find that “smart tickets” are their ticket to a better bottom line and happier customers.
- Contactless Payments – Blue-chip companies such as American Express, ExxonMobil, and MasterCard use innovative form factors enabled by TI RFID technology to strengthen brand loyalty and boost revenue per customer.
- Supply Chain – WalMart, Target, BestBuy, and other retailers have discovered that RFID technology can keep inventories at the optimal level, reduce out-of-stock losses, limit shoplifting, and speed customers through check-out lines.
Mahesh ( MGIT ECE 3rd year)
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