Blog Smart City

RFID Tracking: The Ultimate Guide

1. What is RFID Tracking?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to identify objects. It has been around for many years now but it is just recently that the technology have advanced enough to really be used by big companies. Because of this, there are still a lot of misconceptions about what RFID tracking is and how it works. There are also applications that use the term “RFID” when they should actually say “Inductive”.

2. How does it work?

The acronym “RFID” stands for Radio Frequency IDentification which basically means that the information contained within the device can be transmitted/read by radio frequency. There are two common types of RFID tags: Passive and Active. The big difference between them is power source.

Passive RFID Tags (E-Tags), like the one above, does not have a battery. Instead it obtains its power from the reader device when it’s nearby. This allows for very small tags with long read ranges (~100 meters). However, these tags are limited in how much information can be stored within them (typically less than 1kb)

Active RFID Tags require their own power source (usually batteries) to work. This makes bigger tags that can store more information (~1Mb+). These tags also need antennas to allow for greater ranges (~10km+). However, the read range drops as more tags are in its path (called blocking).

The information contained within an RFID tag is sent to the reader device using radio waves. This means that anyone can listen to those radio waves and see what’s being sent which makes it a security concern for a lot of businesses. To address this issue, most companies encrypts the data before sending it out. To decrypt the data the reader must have a key to decipher what’s being said before handing it off to a computer system for processing.

3. Why should you use it?

RFID tracking has been around since early 2000s but because of high prices not many people took advantage of it. That however changed when big companies started realizing how much money they could save using it. For instance,

Walmart used RFID tracking on their palettes to know how many items are in stock at any given time which helped them save millions of dollars a year .

Speaking of Walmart, the company is now beginning to implement RFID tags into their clothing articles as well. They are currently working with different manufacturers to come up with smaller tags that have newer security features so they can protect their supply chain better .  

RFID tracking is also being used by pharmacies and hospitals to keep track of medical devices like surgical tools so patients don’t get mismatched body parts. After all, this mistake would be traced back directly to the hospital where it happened.

4. Challenges of using RFID tracking

There are a few challenges you need to consider when using RFID tracking.

The first is that it’s not easy to change the information within an RFID tag. If there is already something in there, the only way to update it would be by erasing all of its contents and start from scratch. This makes it very valuable for companies who want a reliable tamper-proof system but a pain in the butt if they ever wanted to change one aspect or another. Additionally, removing tags from certain objects can actually damage them because of how strong the electromagnetic fields are . When attaching tags to uniforms and such, this can actually lead to serious injury

5. RFID Tracking in the Future

Currently, most products use either active or passive tracking types. However, there are also other types in development that companies believe will be the next big thing.

Passive UHF tags are unique in that their range is much larger than normal RFID systems but they can’t store much information which makes it perfect for short term applications like tracking large shipments or items out in the wild.

The problem with this type is that it requires special readers to pick up its signal which leads to higher prices and longer read times . But since most companies who use RFID technology already have these readers, adding them into products like clothing isn’t something they would worry about (at least not yet).

6. What’s the future of RFID Tracking?

As far as active tags go, they are becoming cheaper each year which means they will soon be replaced by more advanced ones. For instance, the newest active tags can not only store large amounts of information but they also work on cellular networks like GSM .

This means you can find out where a package is located in real time. However, it does have its problems too because mobile carriers can see what’s being sent and to who so companies would have to pay them to use their technology. Unfortunately this makes it cost prohibitive for most businesses right now .

As far as passive UHF tags go, they’re continuing to get better at storing information and range even though the industry name has changed from RFID tracking to near-field communication (or NFC) in some areas .

NFC tags are an even cheaper alternative to UHF because they don’t require any complex circuitry to work. They also have a much shorter read range so companies have to be closer in order to get accurate location data.

However, NFC tags do have their quirks too. For instance, if you buy an item with one of these embedded into it then there’s no way for the company who created the tag to track it after you’ve purchased it . It does make finding stolen merchandise easy but most companies would rather not lose control over their products once they’re sold.

7. How can your business use RFID technology?

If you want more information on how RFID tracking works and what type of businesses are using it right now then you may contact us and discuss about it.

If you’re still unsure as to what type of RFID tracking your business needs, then we invite you to contact us today for a free consultation . We can answer questions about tags and readers as well as show examples of how we’ve helped others successfully track their inventory.

Different Uses for RFID Systems

RFID technology has found different uses in various industries. Some of the most popular uses include access control, automatic identification, and inventory management. In the access control industry, RFID systems are used to track and monitor the movements of employees and visitors. This helps to ensure that only authorized personnel are able to access certain areas. RFID systems are also used in the automatic identification industry. This industry uses RFID tags to identify and track objects. RFID tags are commonly used in the retail industry to keep track of inventory. This makes it much easier to monitor the amount of inventory that is present in a store at any given time.

RFID systems can track people, objects, and things, making it an invaluable tool for several different applications. One of the most popular uses for RFID technology includes access control systems. The largest users are typically governments, military facilities, hospitals, universities, prisons, pharmacies, retailers and banks. Carrying out wholesale identity verification by checking passports at airports has traditionally been accomplished by manually comparing photos on paper documents against visual inspections done by human inspectors. This method is labor-intensive since each person must be checked individually while also being extremely slow since lineups are inevitable without fail. Identity cards or other photo IDs allow individuals to skip this process and move through security checkpoints faster. However, such cards can be lost, stolen or forged. RFID tags allow for a safer way to identify people without the possibility of loss or theft as well as provide for much faster entry times into secure facilities by eliminating the need to verify that an individual is who they claim to be.

They are widely used in access control and other systems for various purposes.

The best courses about RFID

  1. RFID Programming and Security Master Class
  2. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)
  3. RFID in Business
  4. Ethical RFID Hacking
  5. Build Attendance System using RaspberryPi, Parse & Kotlin
  6. Main Concepts of Supply Chain Management

RFID-based animal tracking

Tracking animals has always been a challenge due to their natural habitats and lack of willingness to stay within designated boundaries. Using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology makes it possible to keep track of these animals by implanting small electronic devices which carry unique identification numbers as well as periodic updates on their location and activity, in their bodies. Animals such as monkeys and elephants are tagged with RFID implants to keep track of them when they wander into areas that need to be carefully monitored. The implants can also carry information about the animal’s age, sex and reproductive status, which is very helpful in conservation efforts.

Golf ball tracking

The USGA began incorporating RFID chips embedded in golf balls starting in 2004. The primary goal was to create a more efficient method of verifying distance for players by using newer technology instead of measuring devices or lasers every time a player wants to check what the yardage is on a particular hole . This makes it easier and faster to set up shots during play and combined with course GPS systems helps eliminate the guesswork for many players.

Asset tracking

RFID technology is used to track assets of all kinds, whether they are extremely valuable or simply too large to be easily moved. This improved identification method works whether the asset is sitting still or being transported from one location to another. This makes it possible for people without direct access to an object’s location or trail to keep tabs on items that are important but need additional care and protection.

The automatic identification industry uses radio-frequency tags embedded in objects so they can be identified more easily than with human inspection alone. Commonly tagged items include food products, retail inventory, industrial equipment, livestock, and even humans. Radio-frequency tags provide a faster way of keeping track of lots of information about an object throughout its lifetime.

Cold chain monitoring

The pharmaceutical industry takes the proper temperature of products very seriously. Without access to a consistent supply of goods requiring refrigeration at precise temperatures, it would be impossible for many drugs and vaccines to remain effective over time once they are produced by manufacturers or imported into a country. RFID technology allows automatic identification of cases containing these essential items in transit from their point of origin to the end user, helping keep medications within safe operating conditions from the moment they leave production facilities until they reach their destination so patients can benefit from them when needed most.

RFID tags embedded in food packaging monitor the temperature in which stored food is kept while traveling from one location to another. In an example provided by FoodLogiQ, an internet-based food logistics company, a truck carrying clean milk products left the dairy farm at 10 am. As soon as it reached its first stop on the way to the processing facility where products are checked for quality before being sent to retailers or wholesalers, RFID tags set off an alarm notifying employees of improper conditions. They quickly moved the boxes containing contaminated items onto another truck destined for recycling. By ensuring that only cold and secure materials remain in transit during each stage of this complicated supply chain process, companies can minimize overall transportation costs while making sure drugs and vaccines make their advertised appearances when they are supposed to.

RFID chips inside items allow users to identify them easily without requiring direct contact with them That enables faster identification of valuable assets and reduces time spent trying to locate items of interest.

RFID chips in food packaging allow retailers and consumers to know the temperature at which products are stored while they move from where they’re produced to where they’re sold.

Other uses

There are many other examples of RFID tags being used in the animal kingdom. They are also used for tracking rodeo stock, elephants, tigers , and even endangered species to keep wildlife biologists informed about their whereabouts at all times.

Human applications

Human implants have been around for quite some time now, but until recently these devices were limited to medical purposes. The first FDA-approved implantable device was a silicone-encased radio transmitter that came with an attached electrode and was designed to monitor heart rhythms. It could not be removed or replaced if something went wrong; it had to be explanted (taken out) and replaced by another similar unit implanted during surgery. Now there is a much better choice: RFID tags can be embedded inside or into the human body, but unlike other devices that must be explanted after patient recovery is complete, they can be read repeatedly throughout their useful lives.

RFID tags have been implanted in individuals for security purposes. Bearer bonds are sometimes secured by embedded RFID chips to prevent forgery. Uses include access control (e.g., gaining entry to a restricted area), time and attendance tracking, e-payment (such as public transportation fares), personal emergency response systems (PERS), the prevention of consumer product theft at store checkouts, automated highway toll collection, stop sign violation enforcement using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) camera technology , logistics applications such as anticounterfeiting and Radio-frequency identification supply chain management , as well as e-passports and other types of identity documents.

RFID tags have been implanted in humans as a form of permanent identification for decades now, but one German teenager is not convinced that the technology is safe. Sensitive to metal objects due to an undisclosed medical condition, fifteen year old Nick Hein had little choice but to carry around cards with him that identified him personally . Now though, he has replaced them with RFID chips that are enclosed inside his arms – without allowing doctors or anyone else access to his personal data. To get the implants, technicians used just an ordinary syringe filled with saline solution rather than any cutting tools so there was no need for any discomfort during the procedure itself . They inserted glass capsules about 5mm long and 1mm wide into his arm that contain all of the technology. Nick used one hand to slide a glass “window” on his other forearm and held it about six inches above the skin so technicians could inject the chip with saline solution using the needle .

A second implant was inserted in his other hand – reportedly without any pain – and now both can be read by simply holding an RFID reader over them. A German biohacker group is responsible for implanting these devices, but they do not plan to stop here. According to CNET , they want thousands of people all over Europe to take part, and eventually bring it worldwide . Although no medical benefits have been reported as a result of this procedure, there are still some future prospects for it. The chips could be used in hospitals that use patient tracking systems via RFID implantations, and even to speed up verification when checking baggage at airports .

A study was conducted by the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria (FH-Joanneum) in early 2008 with “wild” brown trout populations in Styria, Austria. Tracking devices were implanted into twenty fish; the research examined whether the physical condition of fish improved due to an increase in activity after having sensing equipment implanted. A later study sought to improve understanding of why some brown trout do not respond to a life-saving change of water velocity during a flood event on a river, while others did. This required implanting electronic identification tags into seventy-three brown trout and monitoring their migration to upper reaches of the river during a flood event. The study hoped to gather data on how successful implanted fish were in negotiating the changed water conditions, and if they were more successful than less fortunate untagged fish attempting to negotiate the new velocity profile.

On January 7, 2007, American entrepreneur and computer scientist Todd Westby entered an unnamed prison facility in Oklahoma for an undisclosed crime. He was forced by corrections officers to hold his arm up against a wall apart from his body so that they could implant him with an RFID chip as part of his punishment for smuggling contraband into the prison . As inmates are not allowed access to cellular phones or any other electronics without serious penalties, Westby believed the device would allow inmates who steal a guard’s radio to be located and punished . Employees of the prison told Westby that they “had never seen anything like [it] before,” and he claimed it was more painful than childbirth.

In 2002, a company in Barcelona called VeriTran began implanting RFID tags into employees who work at night so that managers can locate them during emergencies. This new form of technology works by identifying each employee on sight with an RFID reader attached to a mobile computer or PDA then locating their exact position on a map using GPS . The system is designed for companies such as bakeries where security is critical for protecting expensive equipment and preventing industrial accidents. If the worker were to become injured while alone in an area, coworkers would know exactly where they are and would be more likely to find them in time. The main benefit of VeriTran’s system is that it does not require line-of-sight like GPS, so the employee can live on the very bottom floor of a building and still be found quickly during an emergency .

More and more RFID tracking solutions…

Much like VeriTras’ night shift workers, pets with implanted chips have been known to get lost far less frequently than those without. In addition to having location services such as GPS built into their tag, all major pet chip manufacturers now offer registration services that allow owners to record and store information about their pet and then use search engines or software to locate their pet’s chip if they ever go missing .

Chances are you’ve seen at least one dog wearing a brightly colored tag on its collar. If you look closely, these tags are usually cheap aluminum or even plastic that is easy to cut off with household scissors. The reason they are so cheap is because the only thing written on them is some registration number assigned by the manufacturer of the chip. Dogs can lose their entire identity this way if they ever get lost, because no information about the dog’s owner is printed on it .

The more expensive chips have two ways to advertise more information about your pet. There are websites which will print out an additional tag for your pet with your name and phone number on it free of charge upon registering your chip at their site . Some chips have QR codes instead of alphanumeric digits, which, when read by a smartphone app such as ‘Petternav’, give the phone access to your contact information .

The value of these services is easy to see if one looks at the worst case scenario. Consider for example, what happens when you get picked up by animal control and they take your dog back to their shelter. The employees at that shelter will have no way of contacting you unless they know who you are since no contact information was placed on the tag . If it doesn’t happen this time around, consider what happens when your pet gets lost while you’re out for a walk. It’s significantly less likely that someone will return them to you or call you if all they can find is an ID number instead of your personal phone number .

Man’s best friend has been getting a lot smarter lately. In the near future, pets may have access to many of the same technology-based services that humans do. Thanks to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, man’s best friends will soon be able to communicate with their owners no matter how far away they are from one another . They’ll also be able to tell you exactly where they are , even if they get lost without a collar or visible ID.

In 2011, Amazon acquired Zappos for a whopping $1.2 billion dollars . Amazon wanted Zappos not only because it is a popular brand selling shoes online but also because Amazon was eager to integrate into its platform what Zappos calls “Delivering Happiness”, a service designed to provide customers with the most personalized experience possible .

The Zappos website is now full of articles which tout the virtues of customer service and how it is changing in light of recent technological advancements. The latest example being how they are able to better serve customers by predicting what they want before they actually place an order . Customers who use Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices can also now ask her to “order dog food” (or any other item sold on Amazon) through voice command for immediate fulfillment .

Tech giants like Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are working together to make your life easier by developing new hardware and software that integrates services across multiple platforms. This means you will soon be able to do even more with fewer devices .

Amazon’s acquisition of Zappos was also significant because it shows how social media companies can benefit from selling their products and services directly to businesses. We see this all the time with IBM, who has been selling its data-analytics platform to Fortune 500 companies like Walgreens, but we rarely see such a service offered by a social media company (other than Facebook)

Who is going to benefit most from this? Pets! It’s no secret that gadgets and devices designed for human use are becoming more prevalent in our lives. Many working professionals find themselves constantly tethered to their cell phones and tablets even when they don’t want to be . But soon pets won’t need any physical device at all ! This means that they’ll be able to communicate with their owners wherever they are using the same technologies that humans use now .

Pets will soon be able to download apps which allow them to share their location with their owner, even if pets become lost without visible ID. They’ll also be able to purchase items online and tell us exactly where they are so we can find them faster when they get lost .

The Humane Society has already patented a unique microchip implant for cats and dogs which includes unique identification numbers (UIDs), access codes, and an RFID tag. When registered through the special website Backflip (a service owned by The Humane Society), this microchip can provide you with direct contact information in case your pet gets lost or stolen .

Lastly, pets are now able to use their paws to type using specially-designed interactive doggy keyboards. These keyboards are tied directly to the cloud depending on which internet connection they have available . The more your pet uses these services, the more rewards you’ll receive !

It’s no secret that technology is becoming much more prominent in our lives. We’re carrying around powerful computers in our pockets all day just so we can stay connected to everyone else who has one as well. Pets will soon be able to communicate with us wherever they may be and will also be able to tell us exactly where they are if they get lost outside . Social media companies are realizing that there is a lot of money to be made by targeting consumers directly rather than providing “free” services to other businesses. Not only does this mean pets will be able to enjoy all these new technological advancements, it also means that humans will be able to benefit from them as well .

Interested to discover more about rfid tracking? Contract us!

Related Articles