How can Radio Frequency Identification solutions help to minimize waste, while optimizing quality and increase the customer experience?

28 Aug

What is the RFID-tag?

RFID is short for “Radio Frequency Identification”. The innovative technology is more or less a microchip, also known as the “RFID tag”. The RFID-tags can be divided in two categories: Passive- (no battery) and Active- (with battery) RFID-tags. Active RFID tagshave longer reach and since these types use batteries they are more expensive than the ones without. However, both types of RFID tags can be “read/write” or “read-only” tags.

How does the RFID technology work?

A reader sends radio signals whenever a RFID tag is identified in the “signal field”. The RFID tag communicates back to the receiver antenna by sending its unique ID number, and in some cases stored information. But the “read-only” tags are not able to store any type of information besides the unique identification number. Only the “read/write” tags transmit the stored data along with the ID number.

Why do RFID tags have unique ID numbers?

Every RFID tag has its own unique identification number in order to obtain specific information about the respective RFID tag. In addition to this, the electronic ID numbers are part of a worldwide numbering system, which ensures that no RFID-tags can be mistaken for another. The ID number, also called “Electronic product code”, consists of 96 bit. Moreover, the EPC-technology is based on global EPC standards, which enables object identification, data capturing and information- sharing between trade partners throughout the world using the RFID technology.

Low, high or ultra high frequency?

The RFID technology is able to operate on different frequencies, which mean that the low frequency operates at 125-135 KHz, the high at 13,56MHz and the UHF at 865-868 MHz. Most RFID-tags are passive RFID tags and the power supply is facilitated bymagnetic induction. Only the RFID tags, which operate on low or high frequency, are powered through magnetic induction, which occurs between the two coils (the reader antenna and the tag’s antenna). This is also referred to as the “Near Field”, in relation to the NFC technology known as Mobile Payment.

This is in contrast to the passive RFID tags, which operates at ultrahigh frequency and obtain energy from the electric field. This is also often referred to as the “Far Field”.  Passive tags, at ultrahigh frequency, exploit the combined wave (made of electric and magnetic fields, in the free space outside the reader antenna’s magnetic field.) In contrast to the “Near Field” method, the reader antenna can no longer “hold” the signal. However, when the signal (from the reader antenna) hits the passive RFID-tag-antenna, the RFID-tag-antenna absorbs some of the signal, and transforms it into energy. Then the rest of the signal is reflected and returned to the reader-antenna.

The size of the microchip and the antenna, incorporated in the RFID tag, is in fact smaller than a pinhead.  However, in order for a RFID microchip to accomplish longer reading-reach the technology demands the following elements:

  1. Larger antennas to be incorporated in the RFID tag
  2. Larger reader-antennas
  3. Higher transmission frequencies

Generally, the size and material of the antennas decides the frequency. This means that it is possible to customize the RFID-tag to fit the overall aim of using and implementing RFID microchips. This decision includes considerations about the reach-distance of the tag (whether or not it should function at short or long distances).  Furthermore, it is less expensive to use small sized antennas, made out of copper, with a low reach-ability, due to less material required. Hence, the higher frequency needed the more expensive it gets. However, when using high frequency, the readability is easier disturbed by elements from the surrounding environment.

Is it possible to implement the RFID technology in ski resorts?                                    RFID tags can be used in relation to ticketing (lift cards), payments and hotel key features. The RFID ticketing, mobile payment and key solution can properly be used in different industries. For instance in ski resorts, to provide a higher level of service, which is fast, secure and profitable for every involved party including the customers/guests. Furthermore, the technical RFID system can also be used as a marketing management tool if collecting and analyzing the available purchasing information. Since the RFID system provides statistical data of all the registered events for the system-owner (in this case the ski resort).

The All-In-One solution provides many features, such as the online registering system, sales-, management-, and visitor-information functionality. Furthermore, the RFID solution eliminates ticket and payment falsification and lines, while speeding up the buying process. This technology definitely augments for customer satisfaction! It can be concluded that RFID systems enhance security and reliability, while making it more convenient for the end-user, given that no wallet, keys or physical money are needed. For instance if applying the RFID paying and ticketing system in a ski resort, it s possible to built the RFID tag in a waterproof wristband, made of rubber, which can also be used as a key to the hotel areas that demand key access. Generally, universal standards are essential when the RFID potential is explored. In order to use the RFID technology as a payment method, it is required by the International Organization for Standardization, to use the ISO 14443 standard, which is used for contactless payments globally. For instance if incorporating a RFID tag in a contactless wristband, it is required  to have limited reach of 10 cm to live up to the ISO standard and to ensure that payments are accurate, safe and secure. This standard determines the required characteristics of the contactless RFID tag. Furthermore, the purpose of this particular standard is to ensure global compatibility and standardization between the different RFID equipment and systems.

A passive RFID-tag can be used in the wristband, to provide the following services: key access, wallet solution (mobile payment) and lift card. The passive tag named “Mifare S50” can be recommended since it lives up to the demands written in the ISO 14443 standard. These tags works without batteries, hence it does not take up much space in a potential RFID-wristband. Furthermore, it is necessary to write data on the tag – the memory space on the Mifare S50 is 1 Kbyte. The data on these tags is encrypted and the balance information can be stored on the RFID tag, which will be sent back to the reader antenna, along with the ID number when interacting with the device. After a customer purchases an item with the wristband the balance on the tag will automatically be updated. It is possible to overwrite the tag 100,000 times. In order to ensure security a “Three Way Handshake” takes place while using this tag.“Anti-collision” is also one of the functions of the Mifare tag, which allows several RFID-tags to operate in the same field without any danger of disturbance from other tags. The data transmission rate is 106 Kbit/s on these tags and the data on the Mifare tags are stored in 10 years.  Since a passive RFID-tag can be implemented in the wristband, it will operate at a high frequency (13.56 MHz), due to the short reach required to meet the demands in the ISO standard.  In order for the RFID technology to work at for instance ski resorts, shopping malls or festivals, RFID-readers must be installed. Also, since read/write RGID-tags with small antennas can be implemented in a wristband, the readers do not take up much room, and can therefore easily be incorporated in any hotel area, shopping malls etc.

In general, these vital devices have to be implemented to establish a functioning RFID system. A RFID tag combined with an RFID reader are interconnected devices connected to a distant server, which contain a software program and a database, which ensures that the specific RFDI tags are linked to a specific individual. The potential of the RFID along with the NFC-technology is somewhat limitless, it is possible to apply these technologies in different areas and industries to ease any purchase process, which consequently will eliminate waste, decrease the transaction waiting time for both seller and customers along with increase mobility.



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