What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology?

July 30, 2018 | by StoreAdvise

While the use of Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology continues to gain traction in retail, we know some people may not fully understand what RFID technology is. Understanding the power of RFID technology can help everyone interested to better understand how to use RFID to fulfill their needs.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding RFID technology for a while as well which means there is a lot of confusing information out there on the subject. Let’s simplify it.

Breaking Down RFID Technology

RFID technology refers to a small electronic device that consists of a small chip and an antenna. This device can be complex or simple, but it’s not the device that matters it is the chip. The chip is so powerful that it can carry about 2,000 bytes of data that we can use to better our work, lives, and productivity.

Render of an RFID tag, Radio Frequency Identification chip

This technology uses radio waves to typically identify objects and/or people through differed identification approaches. According to the RFID Journal, the most common identification approach is through identification numbers and microchips.

When a microchip is used it is attached to an antenna, this is called an RFID transponder or as we call it, an RFID tag. The antenna allows the chip to send the identification information, like the serial number, to a reader. The reader then converts the radio waves from the RFID tag into digital understandable information for us to use. That information is typically sent to a computer or mobile device.

Make sense?

To break it down even more:

  • RFID means Radio- Frequency Identification
  • RFID tags are microchips that are attached to an antenna.
  • The antenna and the chip work together to gather data on objects and/or people through an Identification method.
  • That data is converted, through radio frequency waves, from the RFID tag to a device.
  • We can look at the data through the device and use it as we need.

What RFID Technology Isn’t

You might be thinking, “Oh okay, it’s like a barcode then?” or “Is it like that chip on my credit card?”

The answer is kind of. These things use a unique identifier to identify objects and people, and they must be scanned for that information to be read. RFID devices follow the same rules however an RFID device does not need to be scanned in the same manner as a barcode.

RFID tags, for example, can be positioned in different places throughout a store and as long as there is a sensor nearby, it can read these tags within a certain range. Barcodes need to be physically scanned, one by one.

You have experienced this in your life when you shop. A sales associate rings up your goods one by one as they scan each barcode.

RFID technology also isn’t anything new, it has been around for almost 50 years! However, it was always too expensive to implement in the modern world, but with other advancements in technology, it’s become a lot cheaper. This has allowed people and businesses to experiment with the technology and finally implement it into everyday life.

Where Can I Find RFID Technology?

Believe it or not, you probably have come across RFID technology already in your everyday activities. RFID technology is commercially used to track vehicles, airline passengers, nursing home patients, and subway passes. The most common use, that has been around for awhile, has been in toll passcards.

However, the way in which we use RFID technology at StoreAdvise is different from all the ways listed above! We use RFID tags on merchandise to help sales associates track the store’s merchandise as it moves around the store. This helps stores maintain inventory and makes customers happier as sales associates always know where a needed item is.

The Future Of RFID

We have only begun to scratch the surface of the limitless ways RFID technology can be used. Inventors and businesses, like StoreAdvise, are out there every day pushing the boundaries with how we can all use this technology to save money, save time, and make our lives easier.