RFID : Whats and Hows


When NBC’s Tom Costello told viewers in a recent piece that the future of America will soon be arriving, RFID chipping, our good old veterans seemed cynical and asked ‘What is RFID’?

RFID stands for Radio-Frequency IDentification. The acronym refers to small electronic devices that consist of a small chip and an antenna. The chip typically is capable of carrying 2,000 bytes of data or less.

The RFID device serves the same purpose as a bar code or a magnetic strip on the back of a credit card or ATM card; it provides a unique identifier for that object. And, just as a bar code or magnetic strip must be scanned to get the information, the RFID device must be scanned to retrieve the identifying information.



Following components are required for an RFID installation:

  • RFID tag: this is a "smart sticker" which is placed on the product or person you want to trace. Depending on the required reading distance (short or far), you will need another type of tag (passive, semi-active, active). RFID tags exist in different sizes and formats.
  • RFID reader + antenna: this combination detects and reads the RFID tags which pass by the antenna. It doesn't matter if it is 1 or 10.000 RFID tags, they will all be seen in a matter of milliseconds.
  • Software application to read all tags and translate them into useful input for your application.
  • Display (smartphone, tablet, kiosk, large screen) to show your information on.

The RFID tag can be affixed to an object and used to track and manage inventory, assets, people, etc. For example, it can be affixed to cars, computer equipment, books, mobile phones, etc.RFID offers advantages over manual systems or use of bar codes. The tag can be read if passed near a reader, even if it is covered by the object or not visible. The tag can be read inside a case, carton, box or other container, and unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be read hundreds at a time. Bar codes can only be read one at a time using current devices.


RFID can be used in a variety of applications,such as:

  • Access management
  • Tracking of goods
  • Tracking of persons and animals
  • Toll collection andcontactless payment
  • Machine readable travel documents
  • Smartdust(for massively distributed sensor networks)
  • Tracking sports memorabilia to verify authenticity
  • Airport baggage tracking logistics
  • Timing sporting events


The usage in SafeEx, for instance is elaborated:

The RFID chip, the SafeEx system uses, stores a unique identification number. The information to the chip is written when registering the equipment. This is information such as model data for the specific piece of kit, the chip is mounted on. This means, that when scanning the chip for the first time, you have to associate it with the equipment by entering all data prompted by the handheld device.

The information is then uploaded to the SafeEx web system. From here, you can approve the information and attach any photos, certificates, manuals etc. to the equipment. The next time you scan the chip, the system recognizes the equipment, and loads all information, attachments and checklists – making it easy for you to conduct the checks directly on the handheld device.

For the future, of course, In inching toward a newly defined humanity, a small RFID will be injected into an individual’s hand, wrist, or arm through use of a hypodermic needle in the same manner as a routine vaccine. The implanted microchip will broadcast an identifying number or code, which can be used for a myriad of purposes. And its already started.

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