Emerging Trends In Contactless RFID Technologies full report
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Emerging Trends In Contactless RFID Technologies
The realization of the benefits of widespread adoption coupled with advances in manufacturing techniques and efficient data-handling methodologies is triggering the explosive growth of radio frequency identification systems in the business community. RFID-enabled applications have grown at a tremendous rate with system deployments in a number of industries such as pharmaceuticals, health care, transportation, retail, defense, and logistics. An important aspect of RFID technology is its utilization in a wide spectrum of applications. As per the studies done on this RFID topic, Emerging Trends in the Contactless RFID Technologies, taken as the Term Paper for the Semester-III, light has been thrown on Contactless Data Transmission Technology, viz. RFID. This report will be covering the RFID Technology as a whole, keeping in mind that even the Naive User will be completely familiarized with the technology. RFID, broadly speaking, is the ability to identify remotely something using radio waves, and thereâ„¢s lot of different ways to do that. A few are Bar-code technologies, Magnetic swipe card, MICR on cheque etc. This report is covering all the basics of this contactless RFID Technology, after that the Developments and Emergence Trends is touched a little bit and will be covered as a whole in the final Term Paper Report soon.
Today, we are well underway toward the omnipresent adoption of RFID technology. There are already hundreds of millions of Tags used in our everyday life-from tags in our car keys to tags around our Access ID card. We use RFID technology when we enter our Office buildings or when we visit Malls and Departmental stores. We use RFID in our Credit cards and in Metro smart card. The next phase for RFID is adoption within the Supply Chain, the supply chain of anything that ends up in Retail Store-Office Equipment, Furniture, and so on. The Retail Store is the last stop for true mass adoption of RFID technology. The journey there requires many steps and will take some time as the economics continue to become more favorable.
Ultimately, RFID will achieve its full potential, as have other great technologies. It will usher in a new Economic, Business, and Consumer Revolution.
List of Tables 2
List of Figures 2
List of Symbols 3
Basics of RFID 4
RFID Infrastructure 5
Features of RFID Technologies 10
RF Characteristics 12
RFID Frequencies 13
RFID Standards 15
EPC Standards 15
ISO Standards 15
The OSI Model 16
Technology Considerations 17
Additional Challenges 18
RFID Business Benefits 20
Improved Productivity and Cost Avoidance 21
Decreased Cycle Time and Taking Costs Out 21
Reduced Rework 22
Reduced Business Risk and Control of Assets 22
Improved Security and Service 22
Improved Utilization of Resources 22
Increased Revenues 22
Exception Management 23
Applications for RFID 23
Emerging RFID 25
List of Tables
S. no. Name of the Table Pg. no.
1. Overview of Tag Antenna Types
2. Comparison of RFID with Bar codes
3. RFID Tags Types
List of Figures
S. no. Name of the Figure Pg. no.
1. Tag or Transponder
2. Examples of a Reader with Associated Electronics
3. Basic Operations of RFID
4. RFID Frequencies
5. OSI Model
List of Symbols
Symbol Full Form
Auto-ID Automatic Identification
EPC Electronic Product Code
HTML Hyper Text Markup Language
ISO International Organization for Standardization
LF Low Frequency
NVM Writable nonvolatile memory
PML Product Markup Language
RF Radio Frequency waves
RFID Radio Frequency Identification
UHF ultra high frequency
UPC Universal Product Code
WORM Write Once Read Many
XML eXtensible Markup Language
Basics of RFID
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a means of identifying an object or person using a radio frequency transmission
What really is a RFID
RFID is an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification. It is an automatic Identification Technology whereby digital data encoded in an RFID tag or smart label is captured by a RFID reader using radio waves. RFID is the reading of these physical RFID tags on single products, cases, labels, or re-usable containers that emit radio signals to be picked up by reader devices. These devices and software must be supported by a sophisticated software architecture that enables the collection and distribution of location-based information in near real time. RFID tags are intelligent bar codes that can talk to a networked system to track every product that you put in your shopping cart. Put simply, RFID is similar to bar code technology but uses radio waves to capture data from tags, rather than optically scanning the bar codes on a label. RFID does not require the tag or label to be seen to read its stored dataâ€that's one of the key characteristics of an RFID system.
Tags contain a unique identification number called an Electronic Product Code (EPC), and potentially additional information of interest to manufacturers, healthcare organizations, military organizations, logistics providers, and retailers, or others that need to track the physical location of goods or equipment. All information stored on RFID tags accompanies items as they travel through a supply chain or other business process. All information on RFID tags, such as product attributes, physical dimensions, prices, or laundering requirements, can be scanned wirelessly by a reader at high speed and from a distance of several meters.
The simplest RFID system (or infrastructure) has three major components:
Â¢ An RFID tag or Transponder
Â¢ An RFID reader or Interrogator
Â¢ Host Computer
Â¢ A predefined protocol definition (format) for the information transferred RFID
Â¢ Tag or Transponderâ€An RFID tag is a tiny Radio Device that is also referred to as a Transponder, Smart Tag, Smart Label, Or Radio Barcode. The Tag comprises a simple silicon microchip (typically less than half a millimeter in size) attached to a small flat aerial and mounted on a substrate. The whole device can then be encapsulated in different materials (such as plastic) dependent upon its intended usage. The finished tag can be attached to an object, typically an item, box, or label, and read remotely to ascertain its identity, position, or state. For an active tag there will also be a battery.
Tags come in three basic flavors:
Â¢ Passive tags
Â¢ Active tags
Â¢ Semi-active tags
They can also be read-only or provide read-write capability.
RFID tags are further broken down into three categories:
Category 1: Active RFID Tags are battery powered. They broadcast a signal to the reader and can transmit over the greatest distances (100+ meters). Typically they can cost more due to the inclusion of battery and are used to track high value goods like vehicles and large containers of goods. Freight containers are a good example of an active RFID tag application.
Category 2: Passive RFID Tags do not contain a battery. Instead, they draw their power from the radio wave transmitted by the reader. The reader transmits a low power radio signal through its antenna to the tag, which in turn receives it through its own antenna to power the integrated circuit (chip). The tag will briefly converse with the reader for verification and the exchange of data. As a result, passive tags can transmit information over shorter distances (typically 3 meters or less) than active tags. They have a smaller memory capacity and are considerably lower in cost, making them ideal for tracking lower cost items.
Category 3: Semi-Active Tags is a combination of a passive and an active tag. The passive component of the tag gets energized as it comes into the electromagnetic field of a reader. As it energizes, it triggers the active component of the tag to send an RFID signal. The benefit is that the battery is only used when triggered by the passive component of the tag, and it then returns to ËœËœsleepâ„¢â„¢ mode after a predetermined amount of time, thus halting the battery drain. The signal travels further than if it were originated from a passive tag component, thus, the range of the tag is much higher.
There are different kinds of passive tags:
1. Low-frequency tags, used in cattle tracking.
2. High-frequency tags, the next evolution in RFID. A key chain with a plastic thing on it, thatâ„¢s an RFID tag, thatâ„¢s a 13.56 MHz tag. An access-control card, to get into your buildingâ€thatâ„¢s also a 13.56 MHz RFID tag.
3. Finally, ultra high frequency (UHF) is the most recent incarnation of RFID. UHF uses 902 to 928 MHz. Thatâ„¢s been adopted recently, within the last few years, and UHF has been catching on.
4. Then microwaveâ€2.5 to 2.45 GHz. Those systems are typically the active systems such as real-time locating systems where you broadcast the signal.
Overview of Tag Antenna Types:
Frequency Field Tag Type Antenna Type
LF Near Inductive Coil
HF Near Inductive Coil
UHF Far Radiative Linear
Â¢ Reader or Interrogatorâ€the reader, sometimes called an Interrogator or Scannerâ€sends and receives RF (Radio Frequency waves) data to and from the tag via antennas. A reader may have multiple antennas that are responsible for sending and receiving radio waves.
A reader has two main elements:
Â¢ An antenna
Â¢ An IC board with at least
Â¢ A microprocessor
Â¢ A radio frequency transponder
Figure: - Examples of a Reader with Associated Electronics
Â¢ Host Computerâ€the data acquired by the readers is then passed to a host computer, which may run specialist RFID software or middleware to filter the data and route it to the correct application, to be processed into useful information.
Figure: - Basic Operations of RFID
Features of RFID Technologies
RFID technologies are grouped under the more generic Automatic Identification (Auto-ID) technologies. Examples of other Auto-ID technologies include Smartcards and Barcodes.
RFID is often positioned as next generation bar coding because of its obvious advantages over barcodes. However, in many environments it is likely to co-exist with the barcode for a long time. What advantages does RFID have over these other means of identifying a person, product, or asset
The real benefits of RFID can be summarized as follows:
Â¢ Line of sight not required
Â¢ Data volume
Â¢ Multiple readâ€œSpeed
Rather than using light to collect or read a number from a bar code, radio waves are used to read a number from the RFID tag. RFID therefore does not need line-of-sight to operate. Using radio means that the tag no longer has to be visible on the object to which it is attached; the tag can be hidden inside the item or box that is to be identified and still be read. This minimizes or eliminates the need for a person to have to present the reader to the tag, as it can now be fixed to a wall, for example. As the item is passed by the reader it will be read automatically, thus giving a potentially large saving in labor costs or substantial increase in the throughput of scanned items.
Another feature of RFID is the ability to read many tags at the same time. It is not necessary to present each tag to the reader separately (as is required for barcodes); instead, all tags within the range of the reader can be read almost simultaneously as they pass the reader. Again, there is a huge savings potential in not having to manually present the reader to each item to be identified.
Furthermore, data can also be written to the tag, a feature that is not possible with barcodes. This feature has tremendous implications for IT systems and the potential benefits of RFID.
Table: - Comparison of RFID with Bar codes
For RFID solutions, there are three main characteristics to keep in mind:
1. Data rate. The amount of data that can be encoded into an RF transmission
2. Permittivity. The types of materials through which a radio wave is able to propagate
3. Distance. The maximum distance that a tag can be powered
RFID Tags Types
Table: - RFID Tags Types
Active or passive Other Classifications
Passive (no battery)
Shorter range (<3m)
Smaller data storage
Lower cost Data storage (Programming)
Active (with battery)
Longer range (up to 100m)
Larger data storage
Higher cost Frequencies
There are several versions of RFID that operate at different radio frequencies. The choice of frequency is dependent on the business requirements and read environmentâ€it is not a technology in which 'one size fits all' applications.
Three primary frequency bands are being used for RFID:
Â¢ Low Frequency (125/134 KHz)â€Most commonly used for access control, animal tracking, and asset tracking.
Â¢ High-Frequency (13.56 MHz)â€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.
Â¢ Ultra High-Frequency (850 MHz to 950 MHz)â€offer the longest read ranges of up to approximately 3 meters and high reading speeds.
Figure illustrates the different frequencies that are used for RFID Tags.
Figure: - RFID Frequencies
Applications for RFID within the supply chain can be found at multiple frequencies, and different RFID solutions may be required to meet the varying needs of the marketplace.
Since UHF (Ultra High Frequency) has the range to cover portals and dock-doors, it is gaining industry support as the frequency of choice for inventory tracking applications, including pallets and cases.
Types of Chips available on RFID Tags
There are two basic types of chips available on RFID tags: Read-Only and Read-Write:
Â¢ Read-only chips are programmed with unique information stored on them during the manufacturing processâ€often referred to as a 'number plate' application. The information on read-only chips can not be changed.
Â¢ With 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'â€where a maintenance record associated with a mechanical component is stored and updated on a tag attached to the component. Another method used is something called a "WORM" chip (Write Once Read Many). It can be written once and then becomes Read-only afterwards.
The Electronic Product Code (EPC) standard was developed by the Auto-ID Center at MIT with the collaboration of academic and industry personnel and currently administered by EPCglobal, Inc. The standard provides a mechanism to uniquely identify every product ever manufactured or to be manufactured. The commonly known Universal Product Code (UPC) provided a mechanism to uniquely identify every type of product manufactured but did not allow for the identification of every instance of each of the product types. The EPC does provide for the identification of every instance.
The key to this protocol definition is the centralized body that dispenses the EPC numbers according to the predefined protocol, much like the GS1 US dispenses the UPC numbers.
Another global body in charge of providing different types of industry standards is the well-known International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO has been working on RFID for years; it has released and is currently working on standards to define the communication protocol of RFID components as well as data elements and data interfaces for dealing with RFID information.
The OSI Model
To better understand the communication among the components of an RFID system, it is important to understand the open systems interconnection reference model, also called OSI model. The OSI model is a conceptual illustration for data communication.
The OSI consists of seven layers:
Â¢ Layer 1. Physical layer
Â¢ Layer 2. Data link layer
Â¢ Layer 3. Network layer
Â¢ Layer 4. Transport layer
Â¢ Layer 5. Session layer
Â¢ Layer 6. Presentation layer
Â¢ Layer 7. Application layer
The OSI model allows for the integration of all of the seven layers (in RFID, layers 1, 2, 6, and 7 are used). Each layer depends on a previous layer. For instance, a data link establishing the transmission of data blocks, therefore, cannot be created without a physical interface such as RFID antennas (tag and reader). The network layer is not used, since communication in RFID is point to point and does not require an intermediate user. The transport layer is not used in RFID; since no complex links between the end users are involved (an example of such complex links is keeping track of packets transmitted). The session layer is responsible for procedures such as restart and termination of operation, and hence, there is no need for this layer in RFID. The presentation layer encrypts data to certain standards to be used by the application layer (the function of this layer may also be embedded onboard integrated circuits). Finally, the application layer, which is the main interface to the user, is responsible for carrying the application done onboard the IC in the tag to and from the reader.
Key attributes of RFID
Passive smart label RFID systems offer unique capabilities as an automatic data capture system in that they:
Provide real-time, wireless transmission of data without human intervention;
Do not require line-of-site scanners for operation;
Allow stored data to be altered during sorting or allow workflow process information to be captured with the data; and
Work effectively even in harsh environments with excessive dirt, dust, moisture, and extreme temperatures.
RFID presents a number of technology challenges. First, organizations must manage vast quantities of data that is generated by reading tags on individual pallets, cartons, or high-value items. In addition, they must implement a fully-integrated software architecture that enables this data to be analyzed and made available to internal and external systems in near real time.
Data Integrity Challenges
Today, many supply chain inefficiencies originate from inaccurate data about where products are in the supply chain. Retailers may provide point of sale (POS) data to the manufacturer, but without the knowledge of existing inventory levels and stock in transit, these data points are not sufficient for accurate demand planning. While there is increasing pressure on manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to maximize efficiency, minimize cost, and provide the best value to the end customer, these companies face the following challenges.
Data integrity issues are a problem, so right now companies are dealing with this
Additional challenges include:
Â¢ Configuration and management of reader devicesâ€ Where organizations deploy a large number of readers, the process can be simplified with highly automated tools for set-up, configuration, and batch management.
Â¢ Tremendous data volumesâ€ Each RFID tag is scanned several times per second and many facilities will be scanning hundreds of products simultaneously.
Â¢ Information maintenance and look-upâ€ Each time a tag is scanned its key attributes must be looked up in a corresponding database in near real time.
Â¢ Ownership and partner data integrationâ€ In complex environments, such as the supply chain, supporting infrastructure must protect data that is owned by different business partners.
Â¢ Standards and architecture interoperabilityâ€ Systems must be compliant with EPCglobal standards for defining product attributes and exchanging data.
Let's look at a real-world scenario of this system:
Â¢ At the grocery store, you buy a carton of milk. The milk containers will have an RFID tag that stores the milk's expiration date and price. When you lift the milk from the shelf, the shelf may display the milk's specific expiration date, or the information could be wirelessly sent to your personal digital assistant or cell phone.
Â¢ As you exit the store, you pass through doors with an embedded tag reader. This reader tabulates the cost of all the items in your shopping cart and sends the grocery bill to your bank, which deducts the amount from your account. Product manufacturers know that you've bought their product, and the store's computers know exactly how many of each product needs to be reordered.
Â¢ Once you get home, you put your milk in the refrigerator, which is also equipped with a tag reader. This smart refrigerator is capable of tracking all of the groceries stored in it. It can track the foods you use, how often you restock your refrigerator and can let you know when that milk and other foods spoil.
Â¢ Products are also tracked when they are thrown into a trash can or recycle bin. At this point, your refrigerator could add milk to your grocery list, or you could program the fridge to order these items automatically.
Â¢ Based on the products you buy, your grocery store gets to know your unique preferences. Instead of receiving generic newsletters with weekly grocery specials, you might receive one created just for you. If you have two school-age children and a puppy, your grocery store can use customer-specific marketing by sending you coupons for items like juice boxes and dog food.
The information stored on the smart labels would be written in a Product Markup Language (PML), which is based on the eXtensible Markup Language (XML). PML would allow all computers to communicate with any computer system similar to the way that Web servers read Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), the common language used to create Web pages.
RFID Business Benefits
Use of RFID technology can increase business productivity and reduce associated costs. To ensure that companies benefit from the advantages RFID provides it is important to understand how to adopt this technology. By analyzing current practices and procedures eight main areas of benefit can be identified. These are:
Â¢ Improved Productivity and Cost Avoidance.
Â¢ Decreased Cycle Time and Taking Costs Out.
Â¢ Reduced Rework.
Â¢ Reduced Business Risk & Control of Assets.
Â¢ Improved Security and Service.
Â¢ Improved Utilization of Resources.
Â¢ Increased Revenues.
Â¢ Exception Management.
Improved Productivity and Cost Avoidance
Identifying items by RFID involves less work than using barcode scanning and other less automated ways. This leads to greater process effectiveness in many tasks such as receiving and putting away, picking and shipping goods when the time required and cost of identifying items by RFID is substantially less than other methods.
Decreased Cycle Time and Taking Costs Out
RFID scanning is not a serial process, like traditional Barcode scanning, so the business can perform identical tasks much more quickly. This means processes that move goods through a supply chain are more efficient, leading to a reduction in the need for larger inventories.
As RFID scanning has a greater first time pass accuracy, this reduces the number of errors that are generated, and the number of retries that are needed.
Reduced Business Risk and Control of Assets
RFID tagging enables better audit and asset control. The ability to better track and trace items means assets can be located more easily. The opportunity for enhanced data collection leads to increased accuracy of record keeping and improved asset maintenance. Regulatory compliance can be achieved more effectively.
Improved Security and Service
Being able to validate information relating to an item enables increased security. This individual identification contributes to more effective access control, reductions in shrinkage and other losses, and the ability to provide fast and efficient services at the point of need. Ability to authenticate information can prevent activities like counterfeiting and fraud.
Improved Utilization of Resources
Information obtained by RFID scanning can be used to improve planning. Processes can be improved, time can be saved, and assets can be utilized better.
By eliminating uncertainty, companies will suffer less "out of stock" situations and obtain greater item availability. This will reduce lost sales and increase choice, leading to more sales.
RFID enables processes and procedures to be measured better. Until a process can be measured accurately, it often can't be improved. Decisions that are based on limited, inaccurate, out-of-date information are often poor decisions. The contribution information captured by RFID offers to IT applications will allow managers in companies to be alerted when compensatory business decisions need to be taken.
Applications for RFID
Applications fall into two principal categories: short range applications in which the reader and tag must be in close proximity, and medium to long applications in which the distance may be greater. A sample of applications is shown here:
Â¢ Access control for people: There are many areas in which RFID tags are carried by people to allow them to gain access to facilities or services:
o Secure access to work place
o Safety access to dangerous/secure equipment
o Access to a computer or vehicle
o Access to travel on trains/buses
o Access to leisure facilities
Â¢ Access control for vehicles:
o Secure access on site
o Road tolling
o Instant payment for fuel
Â¢ Manufacturing automation:
o Control of flexible manufacturing processes by recognizing items being built on a production line (mass customization enabler)
o Labeling key components for later recycling
Â¢ Logistics and distribution:
o Tracking parcels from shipment to end customer
o Tracking goods from manufacture to retail
o Supply chain management
o Stock taking
o Reducing loss through shrinkage
o Reverse logistics
o Product availability
o Plant & Equipment
o Fixed assets
Â¢ Product security:
o Tamper evidence
o Product authentication
There is a new standard called EPCglobal Gen2, it mixes in some new innovations and come up with what is the best, most advanced UHF protocol ever developed.
The EPC Gen2 protocol is designed for optimal performance. It is using two different ways of reflecting back the tag: New, or submask, and also FM zero. Itâ„¢s designed to operate in a broadband of 860 to 930 MHz. This allows it to work around the world. Itâ„¢s got a lot of special features built into it, such as special security that didnâ„¢t exist in the earlier versions of the standards.
Key topics in the evolution of RFID advancement include the following:
Â¢ Battery life. Longer battery life for active tags increases the life of the product in which they are embedded. RFID batteries for active tags are non-rechargeable. The batteries with the longest service life currently are based on a lithium chloride cell. It has an operational life of 15 to 20 years and is excellent for applications like aircraft.
Â¢ Encryption. Encrypted data is key to the security of RF technology. Gen2 specifications provide introductory encryption guidance for passive tags, yet significant work still needs to be done. A user must weigh the security risk with the data on the tag to determine if security is important. More care and interest in privacy and data encryption are being used with active tags. A major reason for the added interest in active tag encryption is due to the longer distances that active tags can transmit.
Â¢ Power consumption. Reducing the power consumption on passive transponders is an important element in effective RF tags. The lower the power, the farther the distance a reader and tag can communicate. Greater distances can lead to more advanced usage per the selected frequency, though higher frequencies have greater challenges because of interference with metal or water. Lower tag power consumption will also contribute to improved reader reliability. Some microwave implementations can run on near zero power consumption.
Â¢ Nonvolatile memory. Writable nonvolatile memory (NVM) is a key component when data is allowed to be stored and reprogrammed on the tag.
Â¢ Circuitry. New generations of tags are requiring more complex circuitry. One tag maker cites a recent class 0 RF tag that has just fewer than 42,000 transistors on board. The same maker states that its Gen 2 tag is populated with approximately 60,000 transistors. Another maker contrasts a Gen 1 tag at 12,000 transistors and its Gen2 tag at near 40,000 transistors. This illustrates the large difference in technology complexities with the advancement to Gen 2.
Â¢ Antennas. IBM researchers have introduced what they call the ËœËœClipped Tag.â„¢â„¢ It enables a consumer to shorten the length of the antenna, thus attenuating the reading range. It effectively allows the tag to be disabled. The concept would enable the tag to still be read at a reduced range providing much greater opportunity to protect the clientâ„¢s privacy yet enabling the tag to read at extremely close ranges if necessary. Tests have shown the range dropped from 2 m to near 5 cm. Multiple methods of shortening the length of the antenna were explored, such as scratching off a portion of the antenna at a midpoint, a built-in perforated line to tear the antenna, or a pull tab that is removable. Each of these methods achieves the same end goal of reducing the RF range of the tag for consumer.
1. Syed Ahson, Mohammad Ilyas,
RFID Handbook- Applications, Technology, Security, and Privacy, CRC Press
2. Banks, Pachano, Thompson, Hanny,
RFID Applied, JOHN WILEY 2007
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