Radio Frequency Identification - RFID
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a wireless data collection technology that relies on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. RFID tags are like bar codes; they are used to identify items. An RFID tag can be attached to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person. Unlike bar codes, which must be brought close to the scanner for reading, RFID tags are read when they are within the proximity of a transmitted radio signal. They contain antennas to enable them to receive and respond to radio-frequency signals from an RFID transceiver. Companies use RFID technology for such things as payment systems, access control and supply tracking.
Three types of RFID tags:
- Passive tags require no internal power source. Their antennae are equipped to collect power from the incoming signal so that it can transmit the outbound signal.
- Semi-passive tags contain a small battery that allows the tag to be constantly powered. This means the antenna of a semi-passive tag does need to be designed to draw power from the incoming signal.
- Active, real-time transmitters are also known as beacons, and have an internal power source to fuel the outgoing ID signal. They have a longer range and larger memories than passive and semi-passive tags; however, they are also more expensive than passive tags.
RFID has always been closely linked with WiFi; one of WiFi’s first applications was transferring data from portable RFID readers. The WiFi-RFID combination has proven to be resourceful in the medical community where it is used to monitor the location and activities of hospital patients. To do this, a WiFi network is integrated with a family of ID badges, identification bracelets and asset tags that are based on RFID technology. This setup allows personnel to identify and locate patients, staff and assets in real-time. Many large network vendors, including Cisco Systems, are promoting WiFi as a way to enable RFID-like applications. Cisco announced in September of 2005 that it was investing in AeroScout, a company that specializes in WiFi-based active RFID solutions.
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