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What are RFID Tags and How do They Work?
RFID Tags are small objects that contain a chip and an antenna for wireless identification of the objects they are attached to (or embedded in) with the help of an RFID reader. Unlike barcode technology, RFID tags do not require line of sight from the tag to the reader and support read/write functionality. Most RFID tags are passive, which means they work maintenance-free, without battery power, for many years. Read the HID Global Industrial RFID & BLE Tags: What to Use When white paper to see examples of distinct types of RFID tags.
How Does RFID Tag Technology Work?
- Passive RFID tags are powered by a stationary or mobile RFID reader that emits an electromagnetic field. The tag’s antenna harvests energy from this field to release a signal to the reader. The frequency of the reader must match the frequency of the tag. For passive tags, there are low-, high- and ultra-high frequencies standardized (LF, HF, UHF).
- Active RFID tags use a battery to broadcast via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) or WiFi.
What Do RFID Tags Cost?
Where Can I Buy RFID Tags?
What are the Common Problems with RFID Tags?
- Metal: Most RFID tags experience reduced performance when used near metal. A tag placed directly on a metal surface will likely not read at all.
- There are RFID tags that have been specifically designed for use on or near metal. These tags typically have a special housing which provides a gap of controlled thickness between the tag antenna and the metal surface or have a built-in metal foil and are tuned to optimized performance near metal.
- Proximity: RFID tags placed too closely can interfere with each other. This is especially true for UHF tags. There are minimum spacing guidelines for each type of tag that must be followed to ensure proper functioning.
- Water and moisture: The majority of tags are physically unaffected by water, however, the read range of some tags diminishes significantly in the presence of moisture. As a rule, the higher the frequency, the more likely the read-range will be impacted by moisture. While LF read range is essentially unaffected by water, UHF read range is strongly reduced while the tag is wet.
- Fixation: There are multiple ways to affix tags to surfaces, and it is important to choose the right method for the application. It is important to ensure maximum contact between the tag and the surface. This is especially important for adhesive fixation. Maximum contact will help to ensure that the tag remains in place when exposed to mechanical
- shock and vibration.
- Sticky label or dry inlay
- Glass capsule
- Disc (coin shape with hole)
- Rectangular block (often with screw holes or steel ring to weld)
- ISO card
- Special form factors e.g. with built-in cable tie, tamper protection, keyfob, etc.
- Find out more about various form factors and see examples on our HID Tag Selector page.
- Line of sight is not required to read the tags; they may be embedded or dirty and still function correctly
- Supports read/write of data as opposed to read-only
- Large memory (up to 32KB)
- Optional cryptographic or password-based security
- Long reading distance of several m/ft (UHF)
- Ability to read multiple tags at once, e.g. an entire pallet of goods
See the white paper Top 7 Considerations to Choose the Right RFID Tag for more details.
- Size of the tag’s antenna
- Tag chip
- Tags orientation in the reader field
- Strength of the reader field
- Environmental factors like metal, water or other material around the tag
- LF, HF and UHF near-field tags typically have a reading distance of <1 ft="" 30="" cm="" span="">
- UHF far-field tags typically have a reading distance of several m/ft but are strongly dependent on the environment.
- NFC Tags (HF) are designed for near-field communication with a smartphone or similar device and typically have a reading distance of <1 in="" 2="" cm="" span="">
- Improved inventory speed and accuracy
- No human error
- Optimized logistics workflow of handling an item
- Contactless payment
- Access control
- Animal identification (pets, livestock, lab animals)
- Contactless access control systems
- Contactless payments
- Electronic passports and citizen ID cards
- Retail logistics
- Automation & manufacturing
- Returnable transport Items
- Commercial laundry
- Medical and health equipment
- Waste management
NFC Tag Uses
- NFC tags are often used as a convenient replacement of a QR code, and simply host a URL that is opened when the tag is tapped with an NFC phone.
- NFC tags may also host other information such as contacts, images, actions or phone numbers.
- Public transport tickets may be NFC tags.
- Secure NFC tags like the HID Trusted Tag open up new proof-of-presence use cases for guard tours, electronic visit verification, or service records.
RFID News is designed to keep you informed about industry and product news, educational resources and upcoming events.
Trusted Tag Services for Digital Marketing
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- No APP development or install
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