IoT Devices: What You Need to Know About RFID

Understanding what IoT Devices are and what they do can help you make informed decisions for your organization. Here is what you need to know about RFID.

The RFID tag is used for IoT asset and inventory tracking
RFID is an important part of IoT and tracking assets.

We live in a world filled with smart devices. We have smart phones, smart home appliances, smart sensors…the list goes on and will probably continue getting bigger. That is thanks to engineers designing devices using information technology. New electromechanical components can now process and compute data quickly in larger amounts. Not only can the products made using this technology perform their original job but can also do so much more.

By connecting smart devices to each other, the world has become more accessible. Smart devices are being used just about everywhere, making IoT popular with businesses and services across all industries. One of those technologies is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). 

What is RFID and how does it work?

Radio Frequency Identification – or RFID – is used to automatically identify an object and capturing data about that object that has been stored in a small microchip tag and attached to the object. The RFID tag has a built-in antenna that communicates to a scanning device that reads the data remotely. The data is then transferred from the scanning device to the enterprise application software that houses the data. Each RFID tag has its own unique identifying number.

RFID can be used to record and control the movement of assets and personnel. You’ve probably seen RFID tags on the back of your library books, or even in the new biometric passports. It makes tracking assets contained in boxes or pallets easier to manage.

The components of RFID

Using radio waves and electromagnetic fields to send data, an RFID tag and the system that reads it consists of three main components.

Component #1 – the RFID tag: there are two types of RFID tags, passive and active. A passive RFID tag is the barcode you see in the supermarket. It is assigned to an item, it is easy to activate, and it does not have a power supply. An active RFID tag, like the sensor tag in the back of a library book, has a microchip that collects information about the asset and may also contain an antenna or on-board sensor. 

Component #2 – the RFID reader: An RFID reader is a device that scans the RFID tag and collects information about the asset the tag is attached to. These readers can be hand-held or wired, and work with USB and Bluetooth. Not all barcode scanners can read an RFID tag, but all RFID readers can read a barcode. 

Component #3 – the RFID applications or software: this software controls and monitors the RFID tags that have been attached to your assets. It can be a mobile application or a standard software package. Most of the time you can find RFID software that has a mobile application that works in conjunction with it. This software can communicate with the reader using Bluetooth or Beacon technology.

How Are RFID Used with IoT Devices?

When used in IoT, RFID tags are handy in cameras, GPS, and other smart sensors. Thy can help identify and locate objects. It is an inexpensive way to turn objects in the home “smart,” like the popular line of Google Nest products. Some healthcare systems are using RFID tags to track patients and their medical records. Transportation systems are using RFID to read passenger data, keep traffic in control, and update transport systems.

Thinking about adding RFID to your assets? Contact us and let us help you decide what system would be the best. Need to learn more about IoT? Read all about it here.

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