RFID Technology

Long checkout lines at the grocery store are one of the biggest complaints about the shopping experience. This is mainly due to the time consuming use of UPC barcodes. These codes act as product fingerprints made of machine-readable parallel bars that store binary data.
Created in 1970s to speed up the checkout process, barcodes have certain disadvantages:
It is a read-only technology, which means it cannot send information.
It can easily be forged.
Barcode scanning is time consuming.

To overcome these, the barcodes are being replaced by smart labels, also called radiofrequency identification tags.RFID tags are intelligent barcodes that can literally talk to a networked system to track every product that is bought. The automotive industry also makes use of RFID batteryless transponders that offer a high level of security at low cost. The theft of vehicles with electronic immobilizers decreased to about one-tenth compared to those without immobilizers. This is based on the RFID technology.RFID is a technology that uses radio signals for automatic identification by transmitting data in a machine-readable form using radiofrequency as the carrier medium.

Advantages & Disadvantages of RFID Technology
Architecture of RFID Technology

Similar to any communication device, RFID technology consists of transmitters and receivers in the form of RFID tags. These are microchips that have all the necessary information on them. The information is comprehended with the help of an RFID card reader. An antenna is also provided on the tags that helps in the transmission of the signal. Active and passive RFID tags are the two types of RFID tags that are generally used. The active RFID tags transfer the information directly to the reader without the use of an external battery or source, whereas, the passive tags require external power for functioning.
Advantages of RFID Technology
RFID technology has a number of advantages
• RFID tags are very simple to install/inject inside the body of animals, thus helping to keep a track on them. This is useful in animal husbandry and on poultry farms. The installed RFID tags give information about the age, vaccinations and health of the animals.
• RFID technology is better than bar codes as it cannot be easily replicated and therefore, it increases the security of the product.
• Supply chain management forms the major part of retail business and RFID systems play a key role by managing updates of stocks, transportation and logistics of the product.
• Barcode scanners have repeatedly failed in providing security to gems and jeweleries in shops. But nowadays, RFID tags are placed inside jewelry items and an alarm is installed at the exit doors.
• The RFID tags can store data up to 2 KB whereas, the bar code has the ability to read just 10-12 digits.
Disadvantages of RFID Technology
The RFID technology, though very beneficial, is expensive to install. Small and medium scale enterprises find it costly to use it in their firms and offices.
• It is difficult for an RFID reader to read the information in case of RFID tags installed in liquids and metal products. The problem is that the liquid and metal surfaces tend to reflect the radio waves, which makes the tags unreadable. The tags have to be placed in various alignments and angles for taking proper reading. This is a tedious task when the work involves big firms.
• Interference has been observed if devices such as forklifts and walkie-talkies are in the vicinity of the distribution centers. The presence of mobile phone towers has been found to interfere with RFID radio waves. Wal-Mart, the retail sector giant, has installed billions of RFID tags in their products throughout the world and they have encountered such problems.
• The USA and Europe, for instance, have different range of frequencies that allow RFID tags to function. This makes it mandatory for international shipping companies and other organizations to be aware of the working pattern of other nations also, which can be very time-consuming.
• RFID technology has been referred to as invasive technology. Consumers are apprehensive about their privacy when they purchase products with RFID tags. Once the radio chips are installed in the product, the customer can be tracked and his personal information can be collected by the RFID reader. However, many stores have a facility that deactivates the RFID tags after the product has been purchased.
RFID technology can be the next tool for success and management of various businesses. With more research, the flaws and limitations of this technology can be removed. This will make RFID technology very useful for diverse sectors like retail, transport and jewelry businesses
Peeyoush Kumar Maurya

 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.
 The RF fields of two or more readers may overlap and interfere. This can be solved by having the readers programmed to read at fractionally different times. This technique (called time division multiple access - TDMA) can still result in the same tag being read twice.
 Thirteen US Government Agencies has implanted RFID to track and identify assets, weapons and baggage on flights.
 South Korea’s Port of Busan has deployed RFID container tracking system to help secure and expedite shipments.
 US Department Of Homeland Security has begun testing RFID technology at there three US Border crossing points.
 Boeing and Airbus have collaborated to use RFID for individual components tracking.
 US Department of Defense contemplating to make it mandatory forits 60,000 –plus suppliers to use RFID on their shipments.
 Hong Kong airport has implemented project worth HK$14 million for RFID baggage tracking system.
How is RFID used inside a living body?
 RFID devices that are intended to be implanted inside a living body (like an animal or human being) have special requirements. They need to be encased in a special kind of casing that will not irritate or react with the living tissues that they are inserted into. The casing must also be transparent to the scanning radio-frequency beam that activates the chip. Some RFID vendors have created biocompatible glass for use in these applications.
 One potential problem with being placed within a living organism is that the tiny RFID device may move around under the skin. This can be avoided by using special materials that actually let the surrounding tissue grow up to the casing and bond with it.
 Because the radio-frequency waves that activate the microchip containing the identification number are only useful within a few feet (or less), the RFID chip is typically inserted very close to the surface of the skin.
 The placement of the device is usually done with a hypodermic-type needle. This method of insertion also dictates the shape and size of the device; implantable RFID devices are typically the size and diameter of a grain of rice. For dogs, the device is usually implanted between the shoulder blades.
 RFID tags have been placed inside cows; some discussion of having all cows implanted with RFID devices has resulted from the recent scare with mad cow disease. Dog owners have used RFID tags to identify their pets.
RFID Works Better Than Barcodes

 A significant advantage of RFID devices over the others mentioned above is that the RFID device does not need to be positioned precisely relative to the scanner. We're all familiar with the difficulty that store checkout clerks sometimes have in making sure that a barcode can be read. And obviously, credit cards and ATM cards must be swiped through a special reader.
 In contrast, RFID devices will work within a few feet (up to 20 feet for high-frequency devices) of the scanner. For example, you could just put all of your groceries or purchases in a bag, and set the bag on the scanner. It would be able to query all of the RFID devices and total your purchase immediately. (Read a more detailed article on RFID compared to barcodes.)
 RFID technology has been available for more than fifty years. It has only been recently that the ability to manufacture the RFID devices has fallen to the point where they can be used as a "throwaway" inventory or control device. Alien Technologies recently sold 500 million RFID tags to Gillette at a cost of about ten cents per tag.
One reason that it has taken so long for RFID to come into common use is the lack of standards in the industry. Most companies invested in RFID technology only use the tags to track items within their control; many of the benefits of RFID come when items are tracked from company to company or from country to country.
How does RFID work?
A Radio-Frequency Identification system has three parts:
 A scanning antenna
 A transceiver with a decoder to interpret the data
 A transponder - the RFID tag - that has been programmed with information.
 The scanning antenna puts out radio-frequency signals in a relatively short range. The RF radiation does two things:
 It provides a means of communicating with the transponder (the RFID tag) AND
 It provides the RFID tag with the energy to communicate (in the case of passive RFID tags).
 This is an absolutely key part of the technology; RFID tags do not need to contain batteries, and can therefore remain usable for very long periods of time (maybe decades).
 The scanning antennas can be permanently affixed to a surface; handheld antennas are also available. They can take whatever shape you need; for example, you could build them into a door frame to accept data from persons or objects passing through.
 When an RFID tag passes through the field of the scanning antenna, it detects the activation signal from the antenna. That "wakes up" the RFID chip, and it transmits the information on its microchip to be picked up by the scanning antenna.
 In addition, the RFID tag may be of one of two types. Active RFID tags have their own power source; the advantage of these tags is that the reader can be much farther away and still get the signal. Even though some of these devices are built to have up to a 10 year life span, they have limited life spans. Passive RFID tags, however, do not require batteries, and can be much smaller and have a virtually unlimited life span.
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