Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

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					Radio Frequency Identification



       Aytaç ELYILDIRIM

     Technical Writing Course

          22 May 2008
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Thesis: RFID is a flexible identification technology, which allows us to identify whatever

we want.

A. History of RFID

       1. First RFID usage

       2. Historical Development

       3. Future of RFID

B. What is RFID?

       1. Frequency Ranges

       2. RFID tags

              2.1. Active Tags

              2.2. Passive Tags

              2.3. Semi-Active (Semi-Passive) Tags

       3. Antenna

       4. Readers (Interrogators)

D. Usage Area of RFID

       1. Electronic Payment

       2. Supply Chain

       3. Animal Tracking

       4. Healthcare

       5. Book Tracking in Libraries

       6. EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance)

E. Standards of RFID

F. Advantages of RFID

G. Privacy and Security
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       Imagine you enter a store and take what you want or what you need, and then just

walk out without paying. This is not a dream now. In the past, we have to wait in the queues

at the markets. But now, owing to RFID we don’t have to wait in the queues for hours, our

RFID card pays our fees. This is one of the benefits of RFID; it also has many benefits like

that. Despite its features, an RFID system is very small. An RFID system includes three main

parts a reader, a transreceiver, and a transponder (tag). RFID systems use radio frequencies to

identify. It can be used to identify everything such as; animals, any objects, or even a person.

It has a history of about 70 years. First RFID devices were used during World War II by

United Kingdom to distinguish their airplanes from the enemy ones. But, in 70 years RFID

technology was developed rapidly. Now, we can see RFID all around us. We can simplify

RFID such as; RFID is a flexible identification technology, which allows us to identify

whatever we want.

       RFID has a history of about 70 years. First RFID devices were used during World War

II by United Kingdom to distinguish their airplanes from the enemy ones (Elham

Mousavidin). After that, usage areas of it and its microchips were changed. They have being

developed for 70 years and it will continue to develop. While it was developing, it was used

in different areas. In the 1950s, RFID technology started to develop. First RFID projects and

researches were published in these years. In the 1960s, first RFID designs have been made by

researchers. First designs were about anti-theft (C.M. Roberts). These systems used 1-bit tags

and attach the most valuable items in the stores. If somebody tried to rob it, RFID tag would

block the theft. Also first commercial began in the 1960s. In the 1970s the development of

RFID technology was increased. Researchers started to attach RFID tags to animals especially

pets. It was used because, RFID tags on the pets stored information about the animal. When

the owner of the pet brings the animal to the veterinarian, veterinarian can see animal’s
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illnesses which animal lived before. And can cure it easily. In the 1980s RFID systems was

used in several areas such as; animal tracking, toll roads in Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, and

Norway (C.M. Roberts). RFID started to enter our daily life in those years. And it started to

make life easier. In the 1990s RFIDs were started to use in railways (toll collection). It was

also started to use in worldwide including; Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong

Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa, Singapore, and

Thailand (C.M. Roberts). In these years, the size of tags also decreased, and standards were

changed. First patents were taken in those years. Until now, about 350 patents have being

taken. In addition, in the 1990s US military has used this technology. Then MasterCard and

American Express used RFID cards. RFID was started to use in libraries in the 1990s (Elham

Mousavidin). In the 2000s growth in usage continued. The United Kingdom army started to

use. Also, Gillette used RFID tags in razor blade packaging in 2003. In March 2003, Benetton

used it in clothes. RFID tags also used in valuable cars keys.

                                            (C.M. Roberts)
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       Radio Frequency Identification is a technology that allows us to identify objects,

animals, or even a person. It uses radio frequencies to identify. An RFID tag can be attached

on anything. It has a microchip which stores the information. This information is sent via an

antenna to the reader. The reader converts the radio waves into computer language and sends

it to host system. RFIDs work like barcodes. Barcodes use codes that placed on an item and a

reader that reads these codes. RFID systems also have readers, but in RFID systems, the

information is stored in a microchip, and in addition it uses radio frequencies to transfer the

data. These signals have different ranges such as; low frequencies which have a range of 100

to 500 kHz, intermediate frequencies which have a range of 10 to 15 MHz, and high

frequencies which have a range of 850 to 950 MHz, 2.4 to 5.8 GHz. (C.M Roberts).

       RFID tags have three different types; active tags, passive tags, semi-active (semi-

passive) tags. Active tags have their own batteries which attach on them. They use this battery

to send information to reader via antenna, and power the microchip. They have a reading

distance approximately 100 feet. They can be used about 10 years with their batteries. Active

tags are more reliable than passive and semi-active ones. They are heavy-duty, namely they

can be used in water and any other difficult situation. Passive tags don’t have their own

batteries. They use the electric energy from the electromagnetic field which is generated by

the reader and they have a reading distance of about 20 feet. They are only active when a

reader is nearby to power them. Semi-active tags also have a battery, but they don’t use this

battery to communicate with the reader. They use it to power the microchip. They have

infinite life. (Elham Mousavidin). Semi-active tags have two main advantages when we

compare with active and passive ones.1. They are more sensitive than passive tags.2. They

have longer life than active tags. When we compare active and passive tags; active tags have

more reading distance than passive ones, and active tags are expensive than passive tags.
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       All RFID systems have antennas to transfer the data from microchip to the reader.

Different types of antennas can be used depend on the application. If the distance between the

tag and reader increases, the quality of antenna also will increase and if the quality of

information increases, quality of antenna will also increase.

       RFID readers read the information, which stored in the microchip and transferred via

antennas, with their own antennas. Generally, this information is encoded. Reader decodes the

information and sends it to the host computer. Also a reader produces the electric power for

passive and semi- passive tags. They also named as interrogators.

       RFID has a wide area of usage. For instance; electronic payment, supply chain

management, animal tracking, healthcare, EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) etc.

       One the usage areas of RFID are electronic payment. This payment is especially in

transportation. First usage was started in Hong Kong. They named this technology as

“Octopus”, and they started use this in 1997. Now, this system is being used by %95 of

Chinese population (UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology). In addition,

Oystercard is used in London’s transportation system. This cards has unique identify number

which stores when card is used and where it used, and card can be cancelled when it lost or

stolen. Also, RFID tags have been using in credit cards by MasterCard and American

Express. RFID tags were started to use in passports after October 2006. This RFID chips store

personal data of passenger (Information Commissioner’s Office).

       Supply Chain Management is another usage area of RFID. For instance, in 2002

Marks&Spencer tagged about 3.5 million returnable foods. This was the largest supply chain

management which includes RFID all around the world. Manufacturers can see the decrease

of stocks. Also it is used in airports to monitor the passenger’s baggages (Tristam Carslie). A

company in Cincinnati chips its employees (Daniel Sieberg).
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           Animals are now people’s best friends. They can be ill, owing to RFID these illnesses

stored in RFID chip and when you will go a veterinarian, he look at this tag and can see

animal’s illnesses. Also RFID is used in animal tracking to distinguish them when they will

be lost.

           The most common usage area of the RFID is healthcare. RFID chips are been using on

human body. An RFID chip embeds somebody’s arm and it stores the information about

patient such as; blood type, patient’s identity, and other details. Also these chips are being

used to identify drugs. In addition, RFID tags used by Alzheimer patients. Because,

Alzheimer patients can forget easily what they must do. They attach on RFID tags what they

need to use.

           Libraries have started to use RFID tags to track the books. This helps to increase the

quality of checkouts and keeps collections in order. Also it helps the consumers to find the

book easily. Librarians keep book in order, and you find the book which you want. In

addition, it blocks the book robbery in libraries. When somebody steals the book or wants to

take the book without permission, when the book enters the read ranges of reader it starts to

alarm. And the security in library blocks the steal. The usage areas of RFID are increasing

rapidly. It is limited by imagination.

           Electronic Article Surveillance is another usage area of RFID. In this area 1-bit tags

are used to record the presence and absence of an object. The most common usage is in anti-

theft devices. RFID tags are attached on the items or clothes in the stores. And if these leave

the store, it alarms before tag is deactived (C.M. Roberts).

           The fast development of RFID must adapt the progressive technology. So RFID must

have some standards. ISO and ANSII are working to increase the standards of RFID

technology. For instance, RFID has a standard on animal tracking (ISO 11784 and ISO

11785), and also in supply chain management RFID has a standard (ISO 18000-3 and ISO
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18000-6). In addition, EPC (electronic product code) has some works on RFID

standardization. EPCglobal Network uses the RFID in especially supply chain. It has some

standards on readers and tags. EPC tags include a microchip and an antenna which attach on

it. EPC number is kept on the tag. This information is sent to EPC reader via radio waves

(Cougar Software).

       RFID has lots of advantages when we compare it with the other identification

technologies (bar codes). It has a wide reading area. It can work in difficult situations like

snow, ice, rain, fog, mud… etc. Also, it has a very small reading time less than 100 ms, and

an RFID reader can read many information at the same time.

       The most worry about RFID is it is reliable and secure. Hackers and analysts are

potential problems for RFID. The information which sends by antenna to reader can read any

reader which in read area. This is one of lacks of RFID. But, user of RFID tag can avoid this

problem by using password which known by only reader. However, this can not block

“hacking”. One of the security benefits of RFID tags is the read range is small. So, it is

difficult to hack the data which stored in RFID microchip. Daniel Sieberg said; “When RFID

chips are embedded in your ID cards, your clothes, your possessions, you are effectively

broadcasting who you are to anyone within range.” An RFID tag can store about 2kb data and

read range is several feet. But, in 2005 a group of hackers in Las Vegas make a reader which

has reading distance at about 70 feet (Daniel Sieberg).

       In conclusion, in the progressive technology RFID is a candidate of future technology.

In the near future we see RFID all around us. It becomes life easier. So, all governments

should pay attention to this technology. RFID tags are very small so we can identify whatever

we want without worry. RFID has some problems about hacking, but we can avoid this

problem with passwords.
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       Works Cited

UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, “Radio Frequency Identification”,, July 2004, number 225.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO),”Data Protection Technical Guidance Radio

       Frequency Identification”,, August 2006.

Commission of the European Communities, “Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in

       Europe, steps towards a policy framework”,

       policy/rfid/doc/rfid_en.pdf, 2007

Cougar Software, Inc., “About RFID Technology”, An intelligent Agent Technology



Tristam Carslie, “What is Radio Frequency Identification”, Information Technology

       Association of America, access on April 2008.

C.M. Roberts, “Radio Frequency Identification”, Department of Information Science, Otago

       University, New Zealand, 2006, p.18-26

Daniel Sieberg, “Is RFID tracking you?”,

       html, October 23. 2006.

Elham Mousavidin, “RFID Technology: An Update”, ISRC Technology Briefing Series,

       access on March 2008.