Radio Frequency Identification RFID And Barcode Computer Science Essay


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Radio Frequency Identification technology is an Automatic Identification technology by which computers and machines can identify objects by automatic data capture. Radio Frequency Identification technology makes use of radio waves to identify and by then manage and monitor objects whenever they move from one location to another location. The RFID System in general consists of reader and tags. RFID tags are small devices integrated with a chip in it and an antenna that stores the object identification information. These tags can be attached with the required containers, objects or any inventory that is to be tracked and processed. The reader is a device which will reads the incoming radio wave data available on the RFID tag with in a sight movement and then transmits it into a form that can be read by a computer. The remaining processing will be done at the computer system side.

In general the RFID tags can be of two types. They are active tags and passive tags. Active tags are provided with a battery for the power supply and the passive tags are not provided with any battery or power supply but they will get the power from the signal emitted by the RFID Reader. Active tags are capable to be read from a distance of more than 100 feet. As they have power and battery requirements they are heavier. They are ideal for tracking objects from a long distance as their range is high and they can be costly. Passive tags have a range of 5 to 10 feet distance from where they can be read. They are lighter, cheaper and reusable. They can be used in places where there is large number of objects to be managed.

RFID and Barcode:

It seems to be that both RFID and barcodes are two competitive technologies and offer same kind of services. But both of them are complementary because the primary difference between these is that RFID doesn’t require line of sight technology to scan. But where as in the case of barcode must be scanned like any item from a grocery store. The RFID tags is just only to be kept in a range of RFID reader where it can be read. There are many significant advantages when compared to barcode even though both seem to be the same.

RFID tags can be read in bulk amounts at a time simultaneously but whereas barcodes are designed to be read one at a time.

Tags are more durable when compared to barcodes and are more durable.

Tags are reusable but whereas barcodes once used cannot be reused.

Tags can contain more amount information and can be updated but whereas barcodes are static and cannot be updated.

Tags do not need any human efforts for reading but whereas barcodes do.

With all these distinguishable advantages of RFID technology there are many easy and automated data collection and identification applications are evolved. Whatever may be the differences are both of the barcode and RFID tags will exist together and find their applications which are suitable for implementation.

RFID Performance:

The RFID System performance varies by the frequency range used chipset memory, type of data collection, security and other factors. Depending on these variables the performance of a RFID tag is determined and used according in suitable applications. The following factors will give better idea on determining the performance of a RFID tag.

Frequency: It is the factor that determines the range of the RFID and resistance to interference. Most of the commercial RFID systems operate at either Ultra High Frequency (UHF) ranging between 859 and 960 MHz or High Frequency (HF) at 13.56 MHz. The UHF is the commonly used for the supply chain management applications.

Range: It is the proximity on which the tag can be read by the reader which varies from few centimeters to some meters depending on the tag and the reader. HF range is used to cover a range of about 3 meters and UHF is used to cover a range of 20 meters.

Security: RFID tags are very hard to hack. A hacker would need to have specialized knowledge about this engineering and various encryption algorithms. Different levels of security can be maintained by applying our own restrictions where the tags can be read and pass the security check etc.

These are the basic factors by which the performance of a RFID tag is determined and used in various applications accordingly.


There exist various applications that exist with the use of RFID in various fields. They are

Production Tracking: Making use of the RFID tags in the production tracking departments of various industries and factories has reduced the cost of the labor to a large extent and it is also easy to manage the records. It also saves the time and makes the tracking process very fast.

Inventory Control: The main application of the RFID tags comes in the inventory control management where various kinds of objects and inventory products like parcels etc are attached with a RFID tag and are controlled throughout the process form the time of manufacturing to the end stage where it is delivered to the customer with a great ease of access and accuracy very easily and in a economical way.

Shipping & Receiving: Shipping is another application where the goods can be tracked automatically from the ware houses and can be managed very easily until it is delivered or received.

Service and Warranty Authorizations: Service and authentication information can be managed easily and effectively with the help of RFID tags. No fraud can be given chance to take place in the case of RFID in this application.

Potential challenges faced by the RFID Technology are:

Managing large volumes of RFID tags information.

Besides product information is also to be maintained.

Careful management of readers and devices.

Integration of data across various facility transit centers.

Security of RFID and product data.

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