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 Product > RFID Product > Antenna > How it Works
How it works

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a generic term that is used to describe a system that transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves. It's grouped under the broad category of automatic identification technologies.

RFID is in use all around us. If you have ever chipped your pet with an ID tag, used EZPass through a toll booth, or paid for gas using SpeedPass, you've used RFID. In addition, RFID is increasingly used with biometric technologies for security.
Unlike ubiquitous UPC bar-code technology, RFID technology does not require contact or line of sight for communication. RFID data can be read through the human body, clothing and non-metallic materials.

Different types of RFID

There are several versions of RFID that operate at different radio frequencies. The choice of frequency is dependent on the business requirements and read environment - it is not a technology where 'one size fits all' applications.

Three primary frequency bands are being used for RFID:

- Low Frequency (125/134KHz)
Most commonly used for access control, animal tracking and asset tracking

- High Frequency (13.56 MHz)
Used where medium data rate and read ranges up to about 1.5 meters are acceptable. This frequency also has the advantage of not being susceptible to interference from the presence of water or metals

- Ultra High Frequency (850 MHz to 950 MHz)
Offers the longest read ranges of up to approximately 3 meters and high reading speeds

RFID tags are further broken down into two categories:

-Active RFID Tags
These tags are battery powered. They broadcast a signal to the reader and can transmit over the greatest distances (100+ meters). Typically, they can cost £5 - £20 or more and are used to track high value goods like vehicles and large containers of goods. Passive RFID Tags
These tags do not contain a battery. Instead, they draw their power from the radio wave transmitted by the reader.

There are two basic types of chips available on RFID tags:

- Read-Only Chips
These are programmed with unique information stored on them during the manufacturing process - often referred to as a 'number plate' application. The information on read-only chips can not be changed

- Read-Write Chips
The user can add information to the tag or write over existing information when the tag is within range of the reader. Read-Write chips are more expensive that Read-Only chips. Applications for these may include field service maintenance or ‘item attendant data’ - where a maintenance record associated with a mechanical