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Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader's interrogating radio waves. Active tags have a local power source such as a battery and may operate hundreds of meters from the RFID reader. Unlike a barcode, the tag need not be within the line of sight of the reader, so it may be embedded in the tracked object.

Introduction to RFID Technology

Type of RFID


Active RFID
With internal power source
Long range
Typically higher cost


Passive RFID
Without internal power source
Short range
Typically lower cost


Battery-Assisted Passive
With internal power source
Long range
Typically higher cost

Frequency of RFID


Low frequency
30KHz - 300KHz
Very short read range : 10cm
Slower read speed

ISO 14223 ; RFID of animals
ISO 18000-2 : RFID of items


High frequency
3MHz - 30MHz
Short read range : 10cm - 100cm
Moderate read speed

JIS X 6319-4 ; Octopus card (FeliCa)
ISO 18092 ; NFC
ISO 14443 ; Mifare card


Ultra-high frequency
300MHz - 3GHz
Long read range : 12M
Faster read speed

Bluebooth ; ~ 2.4GHz
802.11N ; ~ 2.4GHz or 5GHz
3G mobile ; 1.8GHz - 2.5GHz
4G Mobile ; 2GHz - 8GHz

Sales of RFID


2007 (USD$ 0.74 billion)


2017 (USD$ 11.2 billion)

The History of RFID

February 26, 1935

Identify Friend or Foe (IFF system)

The first passive RFID system discovered by Scottish physicist Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt

January 23, 1973

First battery-powered RFID patent

Invented by Mario W. Cardullo


Ultra High Frequency (UHF)

IBM engineers developed and patented


Auto-ID Center

Initially founded in 1999 to develop an open standard architecture


RAIN RFID Alliance

RAIN RFID is a wireless technology that connects billions of everyday items to the Internet, enabling businesses and consumers to identify, locate, authenticate and engage each item.


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