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RFID Technology: A Complete Overview

3 Mar
RFID technology allows non-contact transfer of information (much like the familiar barcode), making it effective in manufacturing and other hostile environments where barcode labels could not survive. Take a look at how it works and what are its pros and cons

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology involves the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the RF portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify an object, animal or person. It has established itself in a wide range of markets including livestock identification and automated vehicle identification because of its ability to track moving objects. The technology has also become a primary component of automated data collection, identification and analysis systems worldwide.

Architecture and working
An RFID system consists of three components: transceiver (often combined into the reader), some sort of data processing equipment, such as a computer, and a transponder (the tag). A typical RFID system is shown in Fig. 1.

RFID tag.
RFID tag, usually known as transponder, acts as a transmitter as well as a receiver in the RFID system. The three basic components of the RFID tag are an antenna, a microchip (memory) and the encapsulating material.

Fig. 1: RFID architecture and working

In a typical system, tags are attached to objects. Each tag has a certain amount of internal memory (EEPROM) in which it stores information about the object, such as its unique ID (serial) number, or in some cases more details including manufacture date and product composition.

When these tags pass through a field generated by a reader, they transmit this information back to the reader, thereby identifying the object. The antenna uses radio frequency waves to transmit a signal that activates the transponder. When activated, the tag transmits data back to the antenna. The data is used to notify a programmable logic controller that an action should be taken. The action could be as simple as raising an access gate or as complicated as interfacing with a database to carry out a monetary transaction.

Low-frequency (30-500 kHz) RFID systems have a short transmission range (generally less than 1.8 metres). High-frequency (850-950 MHz and 2.4-2.5 GHz) RFID systems offer a longer transmission range (more than 27 metres). In general, the higher the frequency, the more expensive the system. RFID is sometimes called dedicated short-range communication.

Fig. 2: How passive tags are defined

There are two types of RFID tags: read-only tag and read-write tag. In the read-only tag, the microchip or memory is written only once, during manufacturing process. The information, along with the serial number on the read-only tag, can never be changed. In the read-write tag, only the serial number is written during manufacturing process. The remaining blocks can be re-written by the user.

Until recently, the focus of RFID technology was mainly on tags and readers which were being used in systems involving relatively low volumes of data. This is now changing as RFID in the supply chain is expected to generate huge volumes of data, which will have to be filtered and routed to the backend IT systems. To solve this problem, companies have developed special software packages called savants, which act as buffers between the RFID front-end and the IT backend. Savants are equivalent to middleware in the IT industry.

RFID reader. RFID reader is the device used to transmit to and receive information from the RFID tag. It is also referred to as an ‘interrogator.’ It includes sensors that read the RFID tags in the vicinity.

The reader sends a request for information to the tag. The tag responds with the respective information, which the reader then forwards to the data processing device. The tag and reader communicate with one another over a radio frequency channel. In some systems, the link between the reader and the computer is wireless.

Supporting infrastructure. The supporting infrastructure includes related software and hardware required for RFID systems. The software manages the interaction between the RFID reader and the RFID tags.

Communication protocol
The communication process between the reader and tag is managed and controlled by one of several protocols, such as the ISO 15693 and ISO 18000-3 for HF, or the ISO 18000-6 and EPC 18000-6 for UHF. Basically, when the reader is switched on, it starts emitting a signal at the selected frequency band (typically 860-915 MHz for UHF or 13.56 MHz for HF). Any corresponding tag in the vicinity of the reader will detect the signal and use the energy from it to wake up and supply operating power to its internal circuits. Once the tag has encoded the signal as valid, it replies to the reader, and indicates its presence by modulating (affecting) the reader field.

Anti-collision. If many tags are present, they will all reply at the same time. At the reader end, this is seen as signal collision and an indication of multiple tags. The reader manages this problem by using an anti-collision algorithm that allows tags to be sorted and individually selected. There are many different types of algorithms (binary tree, aloha, etc) which are defined as part of the protocol standards.

The number of tags that can be identified depends on the frequency and protocol used, and can typically range from 50 tags/s for HF to 200 tags/s for UHF. Once a tag is selected, the reader is able to perform a number of operations such as reading the tags. This process continues under control of the anti-collision algorithm until all the tags have been selected.

Inductively coupled RFID tags. These original tags were complex systems of metal coils, antennae and glass. Inductively coupled RFID tags were powered by a magnetic field generated by the RFID reader. Electrical current has an electrical component and a magnetic component, i.e., it is electromagnetic. The name ‘inductively coupled’ comes from the magnetic field inducted by a current in the wire.

Pros and Cons of RFID Technology
1. RFID tags are rugged and robust and can work in harsh temperatures and environment. The RFID system works at a remarkably high speed, even in adverse conditions.
2. RFID tags are available in different shapes, sizes, types and materials. The information on the read-only tag cannot be altered or duplicated. Read-write tags can be used repeatedly. The RFID tags are always read without any error.
3. Direct physical contact between the tags and the reader is not required. RF technology is used for communication.
4. Multiple RFID tags can be read at the same time. The RFID tags can be read in a bulk of ten to 100 tags at a time. Reading of the tags is automatic and involves no labour.
5. RFID systems can identify and track unique items, unlike the bar code system which identifies only the manufacturer and the product type.
6. The entire RFID system is very reliable, which allows the use of RFID tags for security purpose.
7. The storage capacity of the RFID tags is greater than of any other automatic identification and tracking system.
1. The RFID system is costly compared to other automatic identification systems. The cost can increase further if the RFID system is designed for a specific application.
2. Size and weight of the tags is more as compared to barcode system. The electronic components like antenna, memory and other parts of the tags make them bulky.
3. Although the tags work in harsh environments, the signals from certain types of tags get affected when they come in close contact with certain metals or liquids. Reading such tags becomes difficult and sometimes the data read is erroneous.
4. There is no way in which damaged tags can be tracked and replaced with tags that are intact.
5. Although the tags do not require line-of-sight communication, they can be read within a specified range only.

Capacitively coupled tags. These tags were created to lower the technology’s cost. These were disposable tags that could be applied to less expensive merchandise and made as universal as bar codes. Capacitively coupled tags used conductive carbon ink instead of metal coils to transmit data. The ink was printed on paper labels and scanned by readers.

Motorola’s BiStatix RFID tags. These were the frontrunners in this technology. They used a silicon chip that was only 3 millimetres wide and stored 96 bits of information. This technology didn’t catch on with retailers, and BiStatix was shut down in 2001.

Inductively coupled and capacitively coupled RFID tags aren’t used as commonly today because these are expensive and bulky. Newer innovations in the RFID industry include active, semi-active and passive RFID tags. These tags can store up to 2 kilobytes of data and are composed of a micro-chip, antenna and, in the case of active and semi-passive tags, a battery. The tag’s components are enclosed within plastic, silicon or sometimes glass. Table I gives the performance overview of the different-frequency passive tags.

Active and passive tags
The first basic choice when considering a tag is between passive, semi-passive and active. Passive tags can be read from a distance of up to 4-5 metres using the UHF frequency band, whilst the other types of tags (semi-passive and active) can achieve much greater communication distances of up to 100 metres for semi-passive and several kilometres for active. This large difference in communication performance can be explained by the following:
1. Passive tags use the reader field as a source of energy for the chip and for communication from and to the reader. The available power from the reader field not only reduces very rapidly with distance but is also controlled by strict regulations, resulting in a limited communication distance of 4-5 metres when using the UHF frequency band (860-930 MHz).
2. Semi-passive (battery-assisted backscatter) tags have built-in batteries and therefore do not require energy from the reader field to power the chip. This allows them to function with much lower signal power levels, resulting in greater distances of up to 100 metres. Distance is limited mainly because the tag does not have an integrated transmitter, and still has to use the reader field to communicate back to the reader.
3. Active tags are battery-powered devices that have an active transmitter onboard. Unlike passive tags, these generate RF energy and apply it to the antenna. This autonomy from the reader means that they can communicate from distances of over several kilometres.
HF and UHF are best suited to the supply chain. UHF, due to its sup
erior read range, will become the dominant frequency. LF and microwave will not be used in certain cases.

Tag Ics
RFID tag ICs are designed and manufactured using some of the most advanced and smallest-geometry silicon processes available. The result is impressive, when you consider that the size of a UHF tag chip is around 0.3 mm2.

In terms of computational power, RFID tags are quite dumb, containing only basic logic and state machines capable of decoding simple instructions. This does not mean that they are simple to design. In fact, very real challenges exist such as achieving very low power consumption, managing noisy RF signals and keeping within strict emission regulations.

Other important circuits allow the chip to transfer power from the reader signal field, and convert it via a rectifier into a supply voltage. The chip clock is also normally extracted from the reader signal.

Fig. 3: HF (13.56MHz) tag example

Fig. 4: UHF (860-930MHz) tag example

The amount of data stored on a tag depends on the chip specifications, and can range from just simple identifier numbers of around 96 bits to more information about the product containing up to 32 kbits. However, greater data capacity and storage (memory size) leads to larger chip sizes and hence more expensive tags.

In 1999, the AUTO-ID Center (now EPC Global) based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, together with a number of leading companies, developed the idea of a unique electronic identifier code called the electronic product code (EPC). The EPC is similar in concept to the universal product code used in barcodes today.

Fig. 5: Basic tag IC architecture

Having just a simple code of up to 256 bits would lead to smaller chip size and hence lower tag costs, which is recognised as the key factor for widespread adoption of RFID in the supply chain. Tags that store just an ID number are often called licence plate tags.

Tag classes
One of the main ways of categorising RFID tags is by their capability to read and write data. This leads to the following four classes:

Class 0 (read-only, factory-programmed). These are the simplest type of tags, where the data, which is usually a simple ID number (EPC), is written only once into the tag during manufacture. The memory is then disabled from any further updates. Class 0 is also used to define a category of tags called electronic article surveillance or anti-theft devices, which have no ID and announce their presence only when passing through an antenna field.

Class 1 (write-once read-only, factory- or user-programmed). In this case, the tag is manufactured with no data written into the memory. Data can then either be written by the tag manufacturer or by the user one time. Following this no further writes are allowed and the tag can only be read. Tags of this type usually act as simple identifiers.

Class 2 (read-write). These are the most flexible type of tags, where users have access to read and write data into the tag’s memory. They are typically used as data loggers and therefore contain larger memory space than what is needed for just a simple ID number.

Class 3 (read-write with on-board sensors). These tags contain on-board sensors for recording parameters like temperature, pressure and motion by writing into the tag’s memory. As sensor readings must be taken in the absence of a reader, the tags are either semi-passive or active.

Class 4 (read-write with integrated transmitters). These are like miniature radio devices which can communicate with other tags and devices without the presence of a reader. This means that they are completely active with their own battery power source.

Selecting a tag
Choosing the right tag for a particular RFID application is an important consideration, and should take into ac-count many of the factors listed below:
1. Size and form factor—where does the tag have to fit?
2. How close will the tags be to each other?
3. Durability—does the tag need to have a strong outer protection against regular wear and tear?
4. Is the tag reusable?
5. Resistance to harsh (corrosive, steamy, etc) environments
6. Polarisation—the tag’s orientation with respect to the reader field
7. Exposure to different temperature ranges
8. Communication distance
9. Influence of materials such as metals and liquids
10. Environment (electrical noise, other radio devices and equipment)
11. Operating frequency (LF, HF or UHF)
12. Supported communication standards and protocols (ISO, EPC)
13. Regional (US, European and Asian) regulations
14. Will the tag need to store more than just an ID number like an EPC?
15. Anti-collision—how many tags in the field must be detected at the same time and how quickly?
16. How fast will the tags move through the reader field?
17. Reader support—which reader products are able to read the tag?
18. Does the tag need to have security?

Fig. 6: Two different ways of energy and information transfer between the reader and tag

How tags communicate
In order to receive energy and communicate with a reader, passive tags use one of the two following methods shown in Fig. 6. These are near-field, which employs inductive coupling of the tag to the magnetic field circulating around the reader antenna (like a transformer), and far-field, which uses techniques similar to radar (backscatter reflection) by coupling with the electric field.

The near-field is generally used by RFID systems operating in the LF and HF bands, and the far field is used for longer-read-range UHF and microwave RFID systems. The theoretical boundary between the two fields depends on the frequency used, and is in fact directly proportional to l/2p, where  ’l’ is wavelength. This gives, for example, around 3.5 metres for a HF system and 5 cm for UHF, both of which are further reduced when other factors are taken into account.

Fig. 7: HF tag orientation with different antenna configurations

Tag orientation (polarisation)
How tags are placed with respect to the polarisation of the reader’s field can have a significant impact on the communication distance for both HF and UHF tags. This can result in a 50 per cent reduction of the operating range and, in the case of the tag being displaced by 90° (see Fig. 7), inability to read the tag.

The optimal orientation of HF tags is when the two antenna coils (reader and tag) are parallel to each other as shown in Fig. 7. UHF tags are even more sensitive to polarisation due to the directional nature of the dipole fields. The problem of polarisation can be overcome to a large extent by different techniques implemented either at the reader or tag as shown in Table IV.

The future
Developments in RFID technology continue to yield larger memory capacities, wider reading ranges and faster processing. However, it is highly unlikely that the technology will ultimately replace barcode. Even with the inevitable reduction in raw materials coupled with economies of scale, the integrated circuit in an RF tag will never be as cost-effective as a barcode label. RFID, though, will continue to grow in its established niches where barcode or other optical technologies are ineffective, such as in the chemical container and livestock industries.

Dr S.A. Patil, A.D. Kadage

Digital Electronic “Internet of Things”(IoT) and “Smart Grid Technologies” to Fully Eviscerate Privacy

13 Feb

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor IOT grid
The “Internet of Things” (IoT) and Smart Grid technologies will together be aggressively integrated into the developed world’s socioeconomic fabric with little-if-any public or governmental oversight. This is the overall opinion of a new report by the Federal Trade Commission, which has announced a series of “recommendations” to major utility companies and transnational corporations heavily invested in the IoT and Smart Grid, suggesting that such technologies should be rolled out almost entirely on the basis of “free market” principles so as not to stifle “innovation.”

As with the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, the FTC functions to provide the semblance of democratic governance and studied concern as it allows corporate monied interests and prerogatives to run roughshod over the body politic.

The IoT refers to all digital electronic and RFID-chipped devices wirelessly connected to the internet. The number of such items has increased dramatically since the early 2000s. In 2003 an estimated 500 million gadgets were connected, or about one for every twelve people on earth.

By 2015 the number has grown 50 fold to an estimated 25 billion, or 3.5 units per person. By 2020 the IoT is expected to double the number of physical items it encompasses to 50 billion, or roughly 7 per individual.[2]

The IoT is developing in tandem with the “Smart Grid,” comprised of tens of millions of wireless transceivers (a combination cellular transmitter and receiver) more commonly known as “smart meters.”

Unlike conventional wireless routers, smart meters are regarded as such because they are equipped to capture, store, and transmit an abundance of data on home energy usage with a degree of precision scarcely imagined by utility customers.

On the contrary, energy consumers are typically appeased with persuasive promotional materials from their power company explaining how smart meter technology allows patrons to better monitor and control their energy usage.

Almost two decades ago media sociologist Rick Crawford defined Smart Grid technology as “real time residential power line surveillance” (RRPLS). These practices exhibited all the characteristics of eavesdropping and more. “Whereas primitive forms of power monitoring merely sampled one data point per month by checking the cumulative reading on the residential power meter,” Crawford explains,

modern forms of RRPLS permit nearly continued digital sampling. This allows watchers to develop a fine-grained profile of the occupants’ electrical appliance usage. The computerized RRPLS device may be placed on-site with the occupants’ knowledge and assent, or it may be hidden outside and surreptitiously attached to the power line feeding into the residence.

This device records a log of both resistive power levels and reactive loads as a function of time. The RRPLS device can extract characteristic appliance “signatures” from the raw data. For example, existing [1990s] RRPLS devices can identify whenever the sheets are thrown back from a water bed by detecting the duty cycles of the water bed heater. RRPLS can infer that two people shared a shower by noting an unusually heavy load on the electric water heater and that two uses of the hair dryer followed.[3]

A majority of utility companies are reluctant to acknowledge the profoundly advanced capabilities of these mechanisms that have now been effectively mandated for residential and business clients. Along these lines, when confronted with questions on whether the devices are able to gather usage data with such exactitude, company representatives are apparently compelled to feign ignorance or demur.

i210Yet the features Crawford describes and their assimilation with the IoT are indeed a part of General Electric’s I-210+C smart meter, among the most widely-deployed models in the US. This meter is equipped with not one, not two, but three transceivers, the I-210+C’s promotional brochure explains.[4]

One of the set’s transceivers uses ZigBee Pro protocols, “one of several wireless communication standards in the works to link up appliances, light bulbs, security systems, thermostats and other equipment in home and enterprises.”[5]

With most every new appliance now required to be IoT-equipped, not only will consumer habits be increasingly monitored through energy usage, but over the longer term lifestyle and thus behavior will be transformed through power rationing, first in the form of “tiered usage,” and eventually in a less accommodating way through the remote control of “smart” appliances during peak hours.[6]

Information gathered from the combined IoT and Smart Grid will also be of immense value to marketers that up to now have basically been excluded from the domestic sphere. As an affiliate of WPP Pic., the world’s biggest ad agency put it, the data harvested by smart meters “opens the door to the home.

Consumers are leaving a digital footprint that opens the door to their online habits and to their shopping habits and their location, and the last thing that is understood is the home, because at the moment when you shut the door, that’s it.”[7]

ESAs the FTC’s 2015 report makes clear, this is the sort of retail (permissible) criminality hastened by the merging of Smart Grid and IoT technologies also provides an immense facility for wholesale criminals to scan and monitor various households’ activities as potential targets for robbery, or worse.

The FTC, utility companies and smart meter manufacturers alike still defer to the Federal Communications Commission as confirmation of the alleged safety of Smart Grid and smart meter deployment.

This is the case even though the FCC is not chartered to oversee public health and, basing its regulatory procedure on severely outdated science, maintains that microwave radiation is not a threat to public health so long as no individual’s skin or flesh have risen in temperature.

Yet in the home and workplace the profusion of wireless technologies such as ZigBee will compound the already significant collective radiation load of WiFi, cellular telephony, and the smart meter’s routine transmissions.

The short term physiological impact will likely include weakened immunity, fatigue, and insomnia that can hasten terminal illnesses.[8]

Perhaps the greatest irony is how the Internet of Things, the Smart Grid and their attendant “Smart Home” are sold under the guise of convenience, personal autonomy, even knowledge production and wisdom. “The more data that is created,” Cisco gushes, “the more knowledge and wisdom people can obtain.

IoT dramatically increases the amount of data available for us to process. This, coupled with the Internet’s ability to communicate this data, will enable people to advance even further.”[9]

In light of the grave privacy and health-related concerns posed by this techno tsunami, the members of a sane society might seriously ask themselves exactly where they are advancing, or being compelled to advance to.


BLE vs NFC vs RFID: Learn the differences!

17 Feb

20140215 BLE versus NFC versus RFID and Retail Customer Experience Infographic

Consumers are facing more technology as mobile payments are introduced. Each technology brings new terminology and new challenges to personal security and the protection of one’s hard-earned assets.

We suggest the infographic available from Retail Customer Experience and developed with Pyrim Technologies is a great way to learn about some of the terms most often heard in the mobile payments discussions. It provides clear definitions of and contrasts between BLE (“Bluetooth Low Energy”) and NFC(“Near Field Communications”), the two technologies most often associated with mobile shopping and payment solutions.

A close read shows that BLE is intended for broadcast only. There is no data exchange with the receiving device, typically BLE-enabled Smartphone. Thus, that technology poses no threat to personal security and no private information is shared with the shopkeeper.

NFC, on the other hand, derived from RFID (“Radio Frequency IDentification”) as developed in the 1940’s, is used for a wider variety of purposes or solutions; “use cases” as termed in the article. Some of these are data exchanges and involve mobile payments. This is the basic technology and set of communications protocols that bring with them a threat to personal information.

While authorized scans are considered safe, unauthorized ones that convert the Smartphone into a contactless scanner can retrieve personal data from a contactless card. It is also possible such a device could intercept private information from a Smartphone storing the same data and left in payment mode. They are also capable of reading an unprotected passport with embedded proximity scanning capabilities.

We invite you to read the article and learn about the realities of these very useful and increasingly popular technologies and discover how they may change your shopping and buying experiences in the very near future.

We suggest protecting your contactless payment and identification cards as well as your scannable passport. Our own CARD ID Preserver 10-packs and our Combo Packs are available for sale on Amazon. You can find them via our listings.

Our Combo Packs with Passport Protectors and our Credit Card Protectors alone in a 10-pack.

We look forward to serving you in the future.

BLE vs. NFC [infographic]

Compliments of Retail Customer Experience


5 Reasons Why We Need Microchips Under Our Skin

31 Jan


On our journey towards shrinking (and flattening) all the things we use on a daily basis, such as cell phones or screens, eventually we will hit the milestone where we will finally be free of all the stuff and require only this tiny little thing called “the microchip” that will substitute many things. First of them is identification, naturally. So, I won’t have to carry my ID card always with me, you say? My ID card is inside ME? AND my credit card? I’m not sure that motivates me enough to accept the concept. I don’t trust people who will control the data. And more importantly, I don’t want to be controlled, I want to be free. What else do you have?

So what else is there? For me it’s obvious, so without further ado, here are the reasons:

  1. Safety. Imagine having your child kidnapped. A truly horrible scenario for every sane human being. But what if you would never have to worry about it? If it ever happens you could easily alarm the authorities who would then contact the manufacturer and then easily locate your child. In order for this to be achievable, we need the central system of highest security imaginable that stores all the data from all the implants. Not only that, but we also need the technology so sophisticated and so hard-to-get for the “usual criminal” that it will be nearly impossible for an outsider to scan and find the implant in your body. Another scenario includes having an Alzheimer’s disease – you or your loved one(s). If you ever get lost, finding you would not be a mission impossible.
  2. Health. These are easy. Starting with basic features such as providing a doctor with all your medical records. In my imagination, hospitals don’t need to have databases containing this information; it can all be stored inside the central system. The system decides which data will it show to the hospitals that are connected to its servers – hospitals that want to be in the program, obviously. And no, I wouldn’t charge a fee to a hospital.
  3. Human enhancement. Or biological limitations reasons. How many are there? The list could be endless or short, depending on your perception of limitations and your knowledge of the topic. I can only begin to imagine all possible and impossible scenarios where the microchip implant will work for me, thus making me a – superwoman. The IBM has already made the computer chip which features components that serve as 256 neurons and 262,144 synapses. The goal is to make a processor that can work as a human brain. Sounds impossible, however, many believe it will quickly become reality.
  4. Convenience. These are very handy – imagine not ever having a wallet with you, instead, you just pass by a scanner on your way out of the store and your check is paid. Or entering a club the same way. Or never ever having to search for your keys. You will be able to pre-program your microchip implant to work for you.
  5. Advertising. I have to mention these, as I come from advertising industry. Imagine having some kind of scanners on billboards or citylights. These scanners would be able to recognize what target audience is standing in front of them and show them an advert that fits their demographics for example. Naturally, you would pay a fee to the Central Implant System (it’s what I like to call it) and thus have access to the basic information about their implant bearers. And then you can go wild: want to show your advert only to male Caucasians in their twenties who love fast cars. Or how about to pregnant women only? Finally, all those billions of dollars spent on advertising will be spent efficiently.

First things first

According to Wikipedia, a microchip implant is “an identifying integrated circuit device or RFID transponder encased in silicate glass and implanted in the body“ while RFID stands for „radio-frequency identification, which is the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects“.

There was a case of the VeriChip Corporation who, in 2004, received approval from the FDA to market their microchips in the U.S. Three years after, in 2007, it was revealed that nearly identical implants had caused cancer in hundreds of laboratory animals which, naturally, had a disastrous impact on the company’s stock price and the production of microchip implants.” However, the link between foreign-body tumorigenesis in lab animals and implantation in humans has been publicly refuted as misleading.

I can only hope that right now, as I write, someone somewhere is testing microchip implants that are not only safe to have inside your body, but also untraceable to criminals. For instance, if someone kidnaps you, the last thing you need is a scanner used to find the implant and get it out. This means that we need some kind of Federal Reserve System for human microchip implants; an impenetrable fortress. Only on that level of security and systematization we will be able to start and further develop the microchip implant world.

We obviously need more sophisticated microchips if we want to achieve all these marvelous things. I am sure that nanotechnology will be the saviour here. I believe in nanotechnology.  I also believe in artificial intelligence.  AND I believe in humans – which brings me to the Singularity.

The future of artificial intelligence (AI)

Well, all my reasons go along well with the concept of singularity – us and technology, combined. I believe it is obvious now that we are headed towards the singularity. Take Google Glass for example. It’s a big step towards it.  Raymond Kurzweil is so convinced it’s going to happen during his lifetime that he does everything he possibly can to prolong his life. If you need more convincing – even Google hired this guy to “work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing.” Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045.

My conclusion is simple – the sooner we start using microchip implants for humans, the faster we’ll come to the singularity era, merely because we’ll have the solid ground for further development of the concept.

What is your opinion on this topic? Are you excited about the future? Or afraid? What are the negative possible outcomes of microchip implants in humans and the human-technology juncture?



RFID Hacking: Live Free or RFID Hard

27 Jan


RFID Hacking Tools

Practical guide for penetration testers to understand the attack tools and techniques available to them for stealing and using RFID proximity badge information to gain unauthorized access to buildings and other secure areas.

Tastic RFID Thief


The Tastic RFID Thief is a silent, long-range RFID reader that can steal the proximity badge information from an unsuspecting employee as they physically walk near this concealed device. Specifically, it is targeting 125KHz, low frequency RFID badge systems used for physical security, such as those used in HID Prox and Indala Prox products.

Our goal is to make it easy for security professionals to re-create this tool so that they can perform RFID physical penetration tests and better demonstrate the risks posed by these technologies to their management. The hope is that they can get up and running quickly, even if they don’t have an RFID or electrical engineering background.

We used an Arduino microcontroller to weaponize a commercial RFID badge reader (the HID MaxiProx 5375AGN00 – bought on Ebay) – effectively turning it into a custom, long-range RFID hacking tool. This involved the creation of a small, portable PCB (designed in Fritzing) that can be inserted into almost any commercial RFID reader to steal badge info.

Note, this PCB can alternatively be inserted into an Indala reader to for testing Indala Prox deployments (e.g. Indala Long-Range Reader 620). The PCB can be inserted into any RFID reader that supports the standard Wiegand DATA0/DATA1 output (which is pretty much all of them).

Tastic RFID Thief – Designed in Fritzing

The tool steals badge information silently, and conveniently saves it to a text file (CARDS.txt) on a microSD card for later use such as badge cloning.

This solution allowed us to read proximity cards from up to 3 feet away, making the stealthy approach an actual reality. A typical attack would involve placing the weaponized reader into a messenger bag or backpack, walking by someone in line at the local Starbucks, and capturing the RFID badge info on their person. A visualization of what the attack would look like is captured in the image below:

Visualization of the RFID stealing attack from up to 3 feet away.

*I have emailed Fran Brown and he gave me the permission to share this whole article on my blog.
All credits goes to Fran Brown – Bishop Fox.
Thanks again for this interesting presentation! :)



What is What is Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC)?

9 Dec

Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) is a term used to group together several different technologies that are used to automatically identify items, collect data about them and the ability to enter that data electronically into computer systems.

Many businesses handle large amounts of paper-based data, and often descriptions are transferred from paper to electronic systems and back again many times in order to suit different situations.

Paper usage of this extent is extremely wasteful, not only in the time spent transferring data, but also in the mistakes and errors that can be introduced, both in keying in and reading the information. Which is why AIDC technologies have become such a benefit to companies of all sizes.

Most of the data can be carried electronically in a form that can be attached to the object such as Barcodes or RFID equipped access cards or Smart Cards which can be enhanced further with the use of Biometric data.

In most cases AIDC systems work without human involvement, when human involvement is required, it is usually limited to a user scanning an AIDC equipped item. This frees up a lot of resources that are needed elsewhere and the cost savings of this freed up manpower along with the savings from eliminating product loss and time savings have helped to propel AIDC into the forefront of business operations.

There has been a great advancement in AIDC over the years and it is now possible for users around the world to interact with millions of business processes and systems using AIDC devices.

Object tracking using Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) systems which also uses RFID Tags prevents theft of the items from stores. Locating objects through the uses of Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS) to name just a couple of the many opportunities which AIDC based technology has to offer.


Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that uses radio waves to transfer data between a reader and an electronic tag which is attached to a particular object. Asset tracking and object identification are the two main uses for RFID.

Uses for RFID technology is destined to increase as time goes on. One such use can be to give every product in a supermarket its own unique RFID Tag. When a shopper selects their items and puts them in their shopping cart, they can then go to the check and instead of having to scan each individual item, the shopper could just push their cart through the RFID Reader Gateway. The Gateway will read all the tags contained in their shopping carts. All of the items can then be paid for and the shopper can leave the store.


Barcodes make it possible for businesses to store and access large amounts of data in regards to the product they are placed on. They are widely used in the healthcare industry and hospitals for patient identification, to access data on medical history, drug allergies and other important information.

They are also used in several other industries to record important information including the tracking of rental cars, airline luggage, registered mail and even nuclear waste just to name a few of their wide range of uses.

Two-dimensional barcodes provide a means of embedding Web addresses, text or other data in a camera-readable format. This enables the users of smartphones to scan a 2D barcode and be automatically directed to a Web page or other data contained within the code. This simplifies having to remember or re-key URLs that are found on an item.

Even though RFID technology is relatively new when compared to the barcode, it is easy to see why popularity for it is growing at a much faster rate and it’s future possibilities are seemingly endless.

The future

The future plans for AIDC are as simple as the application is difficult. If all items are equipped with a minute identifying device, daily life on earth will go through a major transformation. Products running out of stock or being wasted will no longer exist because we will know exactly what is being consumed anywhere on the globe. Theft will be non-existent when we know where an item is at all times.

Counterfeiting of critical or expensive items such as drugs, repair parts or electronic components will be reduced or eliminated because manufacturers or other supply chain businesses will know where their products are at all times.

Product waste and spoilage will be greatly reduced because environmental sensors will alert suppliers or consumers when sensitive products are exposed to excessive heat, cold, vibration or other risks.

Supply chains will operate far more efficiently because suppliers will ship only the products needed when they are needed. This will also bring about a consumer and supplier price drop on most items.



RFID: Human Tracking

12 Nov

– In Osaka, Japan school childrens’ garments are being chipped with RFID.

– A monitoring system in Doncaster England, tracks kids by radio chips placed in their uniforms.

– Club owner, Conrad Chase offered his VIP members RFID implants to for club access, identification and alternative method to pay for drink tabs.

-U.S. Heathcare had adopted methods of using both active and passive RFID technology to collect and monitor patient medical activity for nearly a decade.

               We’ve embraced the rapid pace of modernization as expected. The boom of technology, introduced then used on a daily basis has become our reality…. the new industrial revolution. The analog generations are passe’, relics.  To be a techie in some aspect is the norm. Big Brother assimulates new technology into our culture with such ease that we must conform or will be left behind. Tech-literacy. Tech-capable–(or whatever applicable term) it’s extremely difficult to go anywhere without being reliant on some form of new age gadget. On no certain grounds should modernization be abandoned or humane motives for new invention be interrupted. As with any invention that becomes mass produced or distributed, its purpose or use always reflects the morals of it user or the state that impliments it. Modernization for the sole purpose of enhancing the productivity of life, persuades us to jump aboard. And this is the angle in which the state employs for us to cosign. However there exists another side, a darker half to which we apply our inventions that prove to be a danger to society.  Example: (Splitting the atom—Nuclear Energy–Hiroshima). From tools used for hunting and trapping game to modifying those tools used for war and torture, moral judment remain at the forefront–our actions should follow.

                This article unveils RFID technology…more specifically, RFID for human tacking. Again the state is faced with the challenge of using technology effectively or abusing the powers we give them. I predict the latter will happen.

RFID. Radio Frequency Identification: What is it?

         RFID is the wireless non-contact use of radio frequency electromangnetic fields to transfer data, for the purpose of automatically identifying and tracking objects attached to it. In short, a tracking device. You don’t have to like it, but you’d better get accustomed to its use and the laws in place for RFID’s future. This is not a myth. It’s fact. RFID is here.

         Two way radio trasmiter-receivers called readers, send a signal to the RFID tag to retrieve stored data or seral numbers assigned to that specific tag. There are active, passive and battery assisted passive (BAP) RFID units. Active tags have a battery that periodically transmits the information on the chip. Passive battery assisted is dormant  until scanned with a reader to receive or transmit data. Passive tags are dormant and must be strongly “illuminated” in order to function which exposes the object to a higher level of radiation.

          Without providing specifics of its technology, RFID is comprised of two parts: an integrated circuit for storing and processing data, modulating or demodulating a radio frequency that collects the DC power from a reader, and an antennae for signal reception and trasmission. 

           If you own one one of the following: -A cell phone, car with an anti-theft system, CPU or portable versions, passport, credit card, metro/transportation card…any item of retail, chances are you’ve already been equipped with a trackable device. Techies coin the phrase “on the grid.” Today, RFID can be planted or implanted anywhere or anything. The smallest RFID to date is called smart-dust generated by Hitachi. At Bristol University in 2009, RFID tags were successfully strapped to the backs of ants to monitor their behavior patterns.

          RFID technology has come far since it’s early, primitive concept in 1945 by Leon Theremin. Mario Cardullo improved on the device in 1973 which, is considered the truest ancestor of modern RFID technology. The uses for RFID (rather the RFD-like) devices during that time were used primarily for military espionage purposes. It’s civilian use came a decade later. The transition from military useage to civilian is of no surprise. Communism is Big Government a government whos citizns are under constant watch. Rights to privacy are nonexistent. The United States via Homeland Security is grooming us for the next phase of RFID implementation–grooming us for a constant watch system.

          Introducing RFID technology into the general public was as gradual as its development. Manufacturers discovered that tracking production, inventory and sales could be easily done with the device. RFID became more effective than the barcode. Soon, barcoding will be phased out completely.

Currently there are 3 areas where the United States use RFID in humans (tracking)

1. RETAIL–RFID has been used for consumer products. Tags have ben placed in shoes, clothes, warehouse inventory, cell phones, cars (assembly lines, security) predominatly for collecting sales information and pinpointing geographic sales reports for future product generation.

2. DOCUMENTATION–passports (as of 2006), books, credit cards, driver’s license (New York, Washington, Vermont and Michigan), identification cards (schools, universities), employee access badges, bank cards.

3. MEDICAL– RFID tags implants to be used to collect and transmit medical information for patients. Aprox 3,000 are chipped (globally). Medical industry discovered the rice grain (often smaller) sized tag encased with surgical glass can be easily placed under the skin or between tissue, monitoring patient activity.


             Steps for RFID for human tracking made major gains in the last decade. It came with THE RECONCILIATION ACT passed by the U.S. Senate March 25th 2010 after being passed by the House of Representatives on the 21st. This bill states in section 2521 (of 2300 page document) that a National Medical Device Registry should be established collecting data from medical devices such as pacemakers. The FDA in 2004 approved the Verichip for the purpose of storing medical records electronically. The device was classified as a Class II implanatble medical device. According to the bill, the chip is to be linked to “post-market safety patient outcome data.”

          This type of “smoke screen” policy is how citizens willingly surrender their civil liberties. Introduce new technology to the masses as a measure of safety, conveince and protection. Use terms such as “life-saving”, “caution” “preventive.” New bills, introduced after a catastrophic event in order to utilize a timely approach on American or foreign policy. A cunning and tactical approach to betray citizens–use their emotions against them. Move the chess pieces along the board which so happens to be the hearts of humanity.

          Harvard graduate, Dr. Katherine Albrecht, in her book “Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plans To Track Your Every Move with RFID”, claims that the government is trying to create what is called “the internet of things”, where everything and everyone will be chipped with a serial number.

        National Identification cards have already been distributed in parts of China. The Communist government has already ordered over a billion RFID units for various uses. Shenzhen, China (near Hong Kong) is considered the Big Brother surveillance capitol of the world, using closed circuit television systems with face recognition software and RFID cards for popuation monitoring. A high-tech security company has already started creating residential permits (national identification cards) required to be carried by all citizens.


Being reactive has always been effective to our legislature, espcially in the height of crisis or terror alerts. Laws that continue to infringe and erode privacy rights will continue. It will be something we’ll ask for.

Imagine this: A National Identifical Card that contains: DOB, Social Security. Birthplace, Name, Citizenship, Race, Employment History, Bank Records, Investiment Information, Criminal Background, Travel History, Religious Affiliation, Medical History, Credit History, Sexual Orientation.

Worst yet, what if your information was hacked and you’re given another identity or wiped completely off the grip…a “NO ONE?”  The technology for RFID hacking is already in place.

Identity Theft Protection will be our next utility bill.  

Sounds intrusive? It shouldn’t, given that the world population has enough training with sharing information via searches (Google, Yahoo, Bing), internet shopping, and social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Slow indoctrination to the will of Big Brother is the method.

            Health risks from chip implanting is an ongoing topic in medical forums. David B. Smith, author of “Using RFID Technology in Humans for Total Control”,  said implant migration, adverse tissue reaction, compromised information security, and various failures in implant function could be more detrimental to humans. And then there’s always “The Big C” that usually comes when foreign matter is introduced to the body for extended periods of time.

           Religious circles have interpreted RFID technology as “The Mark Of The Best”, the tag, implanted in the hand, giving the rights to buy and sell. They believe this chips will give The Powers that be, dominion over populations. The religious rite warns us against the “evils” of modernization–some inadvertently instill fear by use of scripture, prophetic writings and teachings. But these institutions are also factored into the system. It’s more important to note that humanity is being compromised by way of evil protocols that have beenin place for centuries.

          However you look at it, whether a believer or a skeptic, there’s enough information and evidence around us to suggest that an agenda is being masterfully executed. RFID is not only the future…it is NOW. Your Move.


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.



So what exactly is the Internet-of-Things?

30 Jul

In the future, all things will be wirelessly connected and controlled

The information highway once traversed by smartphones, tablets, and routers is expanding to include everything from household appliances to roadways and power grids. The Internet of Things is a revolution in Machine-2-Machine communication, infusing Internet connectivity to all other facets of 21st century life through the use of embedded sensors and actuators. As objects gain the ability to communicate, the surge of additional information will change the way we live our lives and do business: automation, optimization, and control will become omnipotent. Time will tell whether this technologyimproves or burden our lives.

The Internet of Things is versatile in its application. Everyday chores, such brewing morning coffee, can be eliminated; alarm clocks will wirelessly tell coffeemakers to start brewing as soon as one hits the snooze button. Businesses will track inventory in real time through the use of RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags on a wider scale to optimize supply-chains. Toilets will text mobile devices whenever they’ve been clogged. Heating systems will be controlled through smartphones. The possibilities are endless.

Internet of Things
Expect everything in the future to be interwoven. Image courtesy

Why suddenly now?
As Moore’s law points out, the number of transistors empowering technological advancement double every two years. For this reason, embedded devices have finally matured to a point where immense computational power can be leveraged from miniature and affordable hardware. Moreover, advancements in wireless networking technology and standardized communication protocols have paved an accessible pathway to accommodate massive data flow. Couple these two principles together and it becomes extremely low cost and accessible to harness wireless communication onto most objects.

Fine-tuned power management
The smart grid is the power grid’s application of the Internet-of-Things. Using two-way digital communication technology such as PLC, devices on the smart grid network may be monitored and controlled through the same wires providing electricity. Assume you’ve gone on vacation and forgotten the air conditioner on. Under normal circumstances, there’s nothing to be done nor may you even be aware; however, a home endowed with wirelessly connectivity throughout allows one to verify and deactivate power usage in real-time by way of mobile device.

Similarly, the smart grid permits power companies to offer better services by obtaining power outage reports instantaneously; thus, shortening their response time. Electricity can be re-routed to reduce restoration time to mere seconds rather than hours.

Improved business models
Time is money in the marketplace, and manually counting inventory is a waste of time. Businesses are increasingly turning to the Internet-of-Things to optimize their inventories and supply-chain management. By the using RFID tags and sensors, inventory is automatically accounted in the present. Other possibilities includemonitoring consumer product interactions to analyze use and improve business models for that target audience.

Immediate analytics
Vast amounts of data generated in a short time frame permit analytics of greater precision. Decision makers, such as economists and legislators, will have access to far more accurate statistics given the dynamic nature of the data embedded sensors can provide. As a result, public services should better serve their community.

Big Brother
On the flip side, the constant flow of information permeates the notion that Big Brother is constantly watching over your shoulder. The decrease in privacy is staggering, given every object you use may transmit a piece information about you. If cars are equipped with sensors monitoring traffic conditions, what’s not to say that the same sensors can’t be used to monitor speed-limit observation?

Disclaimer: As the original author, I am republishing my piece from its original source on Electronicproducts

RFID | Radio Frequency Identification and Detection

9 Jun

RFID is a tracking technology used to identify and authenticate tags that are applied to any product, individual or animal. Radio frequency Identification and Detection is a general term used for technologies that make use of radio waves in order to identify objects and people.


Introduction to RFID

Purpose of Radio frequency Identification and Detection system is to facilitate data transmission through the portable device known as tag that is read with the help ofRFID reader; and process it as per the needs of an application. Information transmitted with the help of tag offers location or identification along with other specifics of product tagged – purchase date, color, and price. Typical RFID tag includes microchip with radio antenna, mounted on substrate.
The RFID tags are configured to respond and receive signals from an RFID transceiver. This allows tags to be read from a distance, unlike other forms of authentication technology. The RFID system has gained wide acceptance in businesses, and is gradually replacing the barcode system.
How RFID Works:
Basic RFID consists of an antenna, transceiver and transponder. To understand the working of a typical RFID system, check the following animation.
Antenna emits the radio signals to activate tag and to read as well as write information to it. Reader emits the radio waves, ranging from one to 100 inches, on the basis of used radio frequency and power output. While passing through electronic magnetic zone, RFID tag detects activation signals of readers.
                         Untitled picture
Powered by its internal battery or by the reader signals, the tag sends radio waves back to the reader. Reader receives these waves and identifies the frequency to generate a unique ID. Reader then decodes data encoded in integrated circuit of tags and transmits it to the computers for use.
Types of RFID:
Active and passive RFID are different technologies but are usually evaluated together. Even though both of them use the radio frequency for communication between tag and reader, means of providing power to tags is different. Active RFID makes use of battery within tag for providing continuous power to tag and radio frequency power circuitry. Passive RFID on the other hand, relies on energy of radio frequency transferred from reader to tag for powering it. 

Passive RFID needs strong signals from reader but signal strength bounced from tag is at low levels. Active RFID receives low level signals by tag but it can create higher level signals to readers. This type of RFID is constantly powered, whether in or out of the reader’s field. Active tags consist of external sensors for checking humidity, temperature, motion as well as other conditions.
RFID frequencies:
Just like you can tune a radio in various frequencies for listening to different channels, RFID readers and tags need to be tuned in to a same frequency for communication. RFID system uses various frequencies but most common and popularly used frequency is low, high and ultra high frequency. Low frequency is around 125 KHz, high is around 13.56 MHz and ultra high varies between 860-960 MHz. Some applications also make use of microwave frequency of 2.45 GHz. It is imperative to choose right frequency for an application as radio waves work different at various frequencies.
History and key developments:
RFID has been around since II World War but was viewed as too limited and expensive in functionality for most of commercial use. With advancement in technology, cost of system components has reduced and capabilities have increased, making RFID more popular.
Léon Theremin invented a surveillance tool for Soviet Union in the year 1945. This tool retransmitted the incident radio waves along with audio information.Sound waves vibrated diaphragm that altered the shape of resonator, modulatingreflected sound frequencies. This tool was not identification tag but a secret listening device. But it is still considered as predecessor of the RFID technology due to it being energized, passive and stimulated by outside electromagnetic waves. Similar technology as IFF transponder was invented in UK in the year 1915 and was regularly used by allies in the II World War for identifying aircrafts as foes or friends. The transponders are used for by powered aircrafts till date.
nvented in 1973, device by Mario Cardullo is known to be a true ancestor of the modern RFID. Initially the device was passive and was powered by interrogating signals and had transponder 16 bit memory for application as toll device. The basic patent by Cardullo covers application of RF, light and sounds as the transmission media.
Early exhibition of the reflected power RFID tags, semi passive and passive was presented by Robert Freyman, Steven Depp and Alfred Koelle. This portable system used around 12 bit tags and worked at 915 MHz. And the first patent associated with abbreviation of RFID was approved to Mr. Charles Walton in the year 1983.
RFID Applications:
The role of RFID is not just confined to Aircraft identification anymore; it is also lending a hand in various commercial uses. Asset tracking is one of the most popular uses of RFID. Companies are using RFID tags on the products that might get stolen or misplaced. Almost each type of Radio frequency Identification and Detection system can be used for the purpose of asset management. 

Manufacturing plants have also been using RFID from a long time now. These systems are used for tracking parts and working in process for reduction of defects, managing production of various versions and increasing output. The technology has also been useful in the closed looped supply chains for years. More and more companies are turning to this technology for tracking shipments among the supply chain allies. Not just manufacturers but retailers also are using this RFID technology for proper placement of their products and improvements in the supply chain.
RFID also plays an important role in the access and security control. The newly introduced 13.56 MHz RFID systems provide long range readings to the users. The best part is that RFID is convenient to handle and requires low maintenance at the same time.
RFID v/s Bar Codes:
RFID definitely has an edge over conventional technology of bar codes. RFID reader easily pulls data from tag at greater distances as compared to bar codes.
Range in case of RFID is around 300 feet as against 15 feet of barcodes. So RFID tags can be read much faster as compared to barcodes. While reading the barcodes is time consuming, RFID readers can interrogate rates of more than 40 tags in a second.
Need of line of sight in case of barcodes restricts reusability and ruggedness of the barcodes. RFID, on the other hand are rugged, since its components are protected in plastic cover. The Radio frequency Identification and Detection can also be fitted within the products for ensuring greater reusability and ruggedness. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be used as write and read devices. One can use RFID tags for communicating with the tag and for altering the information stored on it.
Current Scenario and future:
Present trends point towards the fast growth of RFID in the next decade. With around 600 million RFID tags sold in the year 2005 alone, value of market including systems, services and hardware is likely to grow by factor of 10 between years 2006 -2016. It is expected that total number of RFID tags delivered in the year 2016 will be around 450 times as compared to the ones delivered in the year 2006. 

Commercial applications using Radio Frequency Identification and Detection like logistics, transport, supply chain supervision, processing, manufacturing, medicine, access control are also likely to grow by leaps and bounds. But this smart technology will influence consumer sectors and government too. Barcodes and RFID will coexist for years to come, although the latter is expected to replace the former in many sectors.
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