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Radio-Frequency Identification in IoT

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Radio-Frequency Identification in IoT

When considering technologies for your IoT project, you often do not even give RFID a thought. When in fact RFID AKA Radio-Frequency Identification is extremely versatile and flexible along with extremely cost effective! It’s one of the best fits, and it checks most of the boxes for an IoT communication method. RFID is often used in large office buildings, you know – the credit card sized white box that dangles from your neck or waist that magically opens and unlocks doors. RFID is also used in less intrusive ways such as in golf balls, casino chips, retail store packaging, and more. This technology is also used in disposable items because they’re incredibly inexpensive costing just a few cents for basic tags.

Reasons to still be using RFID when it comes to IoT:

  1. Its tried and true, its battle tested and used every day in many fields and situations.
  2. The cost to implement passive RFID is so low that you can throw the tags away then you don’t need them!
  3. Some of the latest improvements in Active and Passive readers allow for long-range detection and data collection.
  4. Passive RFID is 100% battery-free, so you never need to worry about power!
  5. Because RFID has been around for a long time you get the benefit of others work – you can pretty much find any form factor you might want or need.
  6. Active RFID solutions can customize the radio frequency they use, and you are not stuck using just one.

If you have not already caught on or know by now, there are two types of Radio-Frequency Identification. Both are very different from one another, and both have particular uses.

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Passive

A typical passive RFID tag has an antenna and a very low-power IC chip. When a reader is nearby, the RF waves themselves induce a current in the antenna that powers the circuit. The chip then modifies the RF signal, which is returned to the reader with a unique identifier. Passive tags can also use environmental conditions like moisture, humidity and more to modify what data is sent when activated. Passive RFID tags are waiting to be enabled to transmit data, they do not carry a power source and cannot activate on there own.

Active

Active RFID tags work in a similar way to BLE beacons. The device uses a small battery that can sleep until activated by a reader or has a set interval that it sends data out giving it a set lifespan. Active tags can carry an array of sensors that can collect and advertise/send data to receivers.

 

When choosing to use RFID, you gain some significant advantages some of them as outlined above.

  • Low maintenance costs, system are often set up and running for many years without issue.
  • Quicker realization of return on your investment.
  • Equipment and devices are usually low cost; tags can be pennies per device.
  • Smaller chance for RF interference, Active RFID can be tuned to specific frequencies.
  • RFID has been in the market for 20+ years now and is really reliable and well proved.

 

Using RFID for environmental or basic sensors is a great move when it comes to IoT projects. While we love BLE and other technologies you often can not beat the price, assortment of devices and reliability of an RFID system. Connect with us today, and we can help you sort out what technology might be best for your next IoT project!

Greg Winn

Greg is veteran of the Iraq war and a unique expert in software engineering, hardware engineering and big data which provides a substantial advantage for Echolo's IoT products and roadmap. Greg spent more than 10 years at the National Association of Rocketry, building guidance and avoidance systems for high powered rockets. After a few years in the online gaming industry, Greg built his first company Tacticalzone.com a community site for the NovaLogic video game, Delta Force. TacticalZone was acquired in 2002 by Playnet Inc. In the years following TacticalZone Greg launched many web platforms and SaaS-based products including Cignal, a big data twitter sentiment analysis and predictive tool. Greg has contracted for top companies and organizations such as NASA, Ackerman & McQueen, Match.com, and the NRA. He has become a leading authority on how to create world-class software with a startup development team then scale into a full product organization.

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