Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) refers to technologies that utilize radio waves to automatically identify individual items. When RFID first emerged, it was used in tracking and access applications. Since then, it has developed as a robust technology with ever increasing processing speeds, wider reading ranges, and larger memory capacities.
How RFID Works
RFID technology allows information to be collected quickly and automatically and does not require contact or line-of-sight. The reader generates an electromagnetic field through its antenna. Once the tag enters the detection area, it becomes active when receiving a signal through its own antenna. This signal is used to turn on the tag's transmitter and allows the tag to communicate and exchange information with the reader. The reader then transmits the data to a computer or server for processing and management.
A basic system consists of two components including a tag and a reader with an antenna.
RFID tags vary in shape and size and are either active or passive. Active RFID tags are powered by an internal battery and are commonly read/write, which allows the tag's data to be modified or rewritten. The memory size of an active tag varies depending on the application requirements. Passive RFID tags like our Health Link implantable microchip, on the other hand, are not powered by a battery, but instead rely on power generated by the reader.
The read range for active tags ranges from a few inches to over a hundred feet. The read range for passive tags ranges from one to ten feet.
The reader is a handheld or fixed-mount device that emits electromagnetic (radio) waves. These waves can range from one inch to 100 feet and are dependent on power output and the radio frequency used.
RFID systems can run on frequencies anywhere between 30 KHz to 500 KHz (low frequency), 850 MHz to 950 MHz and 2.4 GHz to 2.5 GHz (both considered high frequency). Systems that run on low frequency are less costly and have shorter reading ranges. Our patient identification microchip and systems like asset tracking typically use low frequency. High frequency systems are more costly, have faster reading speed, and have longer reading ranges. RFID systems used in automated toll collection are of this system type.