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Radio-frequency identication

nature data structure for RFID and barcodes providing

data, source and read method authenticity. This work is
done within ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31 Automatic identication and data capture techniques.
In 2014, the world RFID market is worth US$8.89 billion, up from US$7.77 billion in 2013 and US$6.96
billion in 2012. This includes tags, readers, and software/services for RFID cards, labels, fobs, and all other
form factors. The market value is expected to rise to
US$18.68 billion by 2026.[3]

1 History
See also: History of radar
In 1945, Lon Theremin invented an espionage tool
Small RFID chips, here compared to a grain of rice, are incorporated in consumer products, and implanted in pets, for identication purposes

electromagnetic elds to automatically identify and
track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Passive tags collect energy
from a nearby RFID readers interrogating radio waves.
Active tags have a local power source such as a battery
and may operate at hundreds of meters from the RFID
reader. Unlike a barcode, the tag need not be within the
line of sight of the reader, so it may be embedded in FasTrak, an RFID tag used for electronic toll collection in Calithe tracked object. RFID is one method for Automatic fornia
Identication and Data Capture (AIDC).[1]
RFID tags are used in many industries, for example,
an RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line; RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals can be tracked
through warehouses; and implanting RFID microchips
in livestock and pets allows positive identication of animals.

for the Soviet Union which retransmitted incident radio waves with audio information. Sound waves vibrated a diaphragm which slightly altered the shape of the
resonator, which modulated the reected radio frequency.
Even though this device was a covert listening device, not
an identication tag, it is considered to be a predecessor
of RFID, because it was likewise passive, being energized
Since RFID tags can be attached to cash, clothing, and and activated by waves from an outside source.
possessions, or implanted in animals and people, the pos- Similar technology, such as the IFF transponder, was rousibility of reading personally-linked information without tinely used by the allies and Germany in World War II
consent has raised serious privacy concerns.[2] These con- to identify aircraft as friend or foe. Transponders are
cerns resulted in standard specications development ad- still used by most powered aircraft to this day. Another
dressing privacy and security issues. ISO/IEC 18000 and early work exploring RFID is the landmark 1948 paper
ISO/IEC 29167 use on-chip cryptography methods for by Harry Stockman.[5] Stockman predicted that "... conuntraceability, tag and reader authentication, and over- siderable research and development work has to be done
the-air privacy. ISO/IEC 20248 species a digital sig- before the remaining basic problems in reected-power


communication are solved, and before the eld of useful cuit for storing and processing information, modulating
applications is explored.
and demodulating a radio-frequency (RF) signal, collectMario Cardullo's device, patented on January 23, 1973, ing DC power from the incident reader signal, and other
was the rst true ancestor[6] of modern RFID, as it was a specialized functions; and an antenna for receiving and
passive radio transponder with memory.[7] The initial de- transmitting the signal. The tag information is stored in a
vice was passive, powered by the interrogating signal, and non-volatile memory. The RFID tag includes either xed
was demonstrated in 1971 to the New York Port Author- or programmable logic for processing the transmission
ity and other potential users and consisted of a transpon- and sensor data, respectively.
der with 16 bit memory for use as a toll device. The
basic Cardullo patent covers the use of RF, sound and
light as transmission media. The original business plan
presented to investors in 1969 showed uses in transportation (automotive vehicle identication, automatic toll system, electronic license plate, electronic manifest, vehicle
routing, vehicle performance monitoring), banking (electronic check book, electronic credit card), security (personnel identication, automatic gates, surveillance) and
medical (identication, patient history).[6]
An early demonstration of reected power (modulated
backscatter) RFID tags, both passive and semi-passive,
was performed by Steven Depp, Alfred Koelle, and
Robert Frayman at the Los Alamos National Laboratory
in 1973.[8] The portable system operated at 915 MHz and
used 12-bit tags. This technique is used by the majority
of todays UHFID and microwave RFID tags.[9]

An RFID reader transmits an encoded radio signal to interrogate the tag. The RFID tag receives the message and
then responds with its identication and other information. This may be only a unique tag serial number, or may
be product-related information such as a stock number,
lot or batch number, production date, or other specic
information. Since tags have individual serial numbers,
the RFID system design can discriminate among several
tags that might be within the range of the RFID reader
and read them simultaneously.

2.2 Readers

RFID systems can be classied by the type of tag and

reader. A Passive Reader Active Tag (PRAT) system
has a passive reader which only receives radio signals
from active tags (battery operated, transmit only). The
The rst patent to be associated with the abbreviation reception range of a PRAT system reader can be adjusted
RFID was granted to Charles Walton in 1983.[10]
from 12,000 feet (0600 m), allowing exibility in applications such as asset protection and supervision.


An Active Reader Passive Tag (ARPT) system has an

active reader, which transmits interrogator signals and
also receives authentication replies from passive tags.

An Active Reader Active Tag (ARAT) system uses active tags awoken with an interrogator signal from the acA radio-frequency identication system uses tags, or la- tive reader. A variation of this system could also use a
bels attached to the objects to be identied. Two-way Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) tag which acts like a pasradio transmitter-receivers called interrogators or readers sive tag but has a small battery to power the tags return
reporting signal.
send a signal to the tag and read its response.



RFID tags can be either passive, active or battery-assisted

passive. An active tag has an on-board battery and periodically transmits its ID signal. A battery-assisted passive (BAP) has a small battery on board and is activated
when in the presence of an RFID reader. A passive tag
is cheaper and smaller because it has no battery; instead,
the tag uses the radio energy transmitted by the reader.
However, to operate a passive tag, it must be illuminated
with a power level roughly a thousand times stronger than
for signal transmission. That makes a dierence in interference and in exposure to radiation.

Fixed readers are set up to create a specic interrogation

zone which can be tightly controlled. This allows a highly
dened reading area for when tags go in and out of the
interrogation zone. Mobile readers may be hand-held or
mounted on carts or vehicles.

2.3 Frequencies
2.4 Signaling

Signaling between the reader and the tag is done in several dierent incompatible ways, depending on the frequency band used by the tag. Tags operating on LF and
HF bands are, in terms of radio wavelength, very close to
the reader antenna because they are only a small percentage of a wavelength away. In this near eld region, the
tag is closely coupled electrically with the transmitter in
RFID tags contain at least two parts: an integrated cir- the reader. The tag can modulate the eld produced by
Tags may either be read-only, having a factory-assigned
serial number that is used as a key into a database, or may
be read/write, where object-specic data can be written
into the tag by the system user. Field programmable tags
may be write-once, read-multiple; blank tags may be
written with an electronic product code by the user.

the reader by changing the electrical loading the tag represents. By switching between lower and higher relative
loads, the tag produces a change that the reader can detect. At UHF and higher frequencies, the tag is more than
one radio wavelength away from the reader, requiring a
dierent approach. The tag can backscatter a signal. Active tags may contain functionally separated transmitters
and receivers, and the tag need not respond on a frequency
related to the readers interrogation signal.[13]

in order to study their behavior.[16] This trend towards

increasingly miniaturized RFIDs is likely to continue as
technology advances.

Hitachi holds the record for the smallest RFID chip, at

0.05 mm 0.05 mm. This is 1/64th the size of the
previous record holder, the mu-chip.[17] Manufacture is
enabled by using the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) process.
These dust-sized chips can store 38-digit numbers using
128-bit Read Only Memory (ROM).[18] A major chalAn Electronic Product Code (EPC) is one common type lenge is the attachment of antennas, thus limiting read
of data stored in a tag. When written into the tag by an range to only millimeters.
RFID printer, the tag contains a 96-bit string of data. The
rst eight bits are a header which identies the version of
the protocol. The next 28 bits identify the organization 3 Uses
that manages the data for this tag; the organization number is assigned by the EPCGlobal consortium. The next
The RFID tag can be axed to an object and used to
24 bits are an object class, identifying the kind of product;
track and manage inventory, assets, people, etc. For exthe last 36 bits are a unique serial number for a particuample, it can be axed to cars, computer equipment,
lar tag. These last two elds are set by the organization
books, mobile phones, etc.
that issued the tag. Rather like a URL, the total electronic
product code number can be used as a key into a global RFID oers advantages over manual systems or use of
bar codes. The tag can be read if passed near a reader,
database to uniquely identify a particular product.[14]
even if it is covered by the object or not visible. The tag
Often more than one tag will respond to a tag reader,
can be read inside a case, carton, box or other container,
for example, many individual products with tags may be
and unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be read hundreds at
shipped in a common box or on a common pallet. Collia time. Bar codes can only be read one at a time using
sion detection is important to allow reading of data. Two
current devices.
dierent types of protocols are used to singulate a particular tag, allowing its data to be read in the midst of In 2011, the cost of passive tags started at US$0.09 each;
many similar tags. In a slotted Aloha system, the reader special tags, meant to be mounted on metal or withstand
broadcasts an initialization command and a parameter gamma sterilization, can go up to US$5. Active tags for
that the tags individually use to pseudo-randomly delay tracking containers, medical assets, or monitoring envitheir responses. When using an adaptive binary tree ronmental conditions in data centers start at US$50 and
protocol, the reader sends an initialization symbol and can go up over US$100 each. Battery-Assisted Passive
then transmits one bit of ID data at a time; only tags (BAP) tags are in the US$310 range and also have senwith matching bits respond, and eventually only one tag sor capability like temperature and humidity.
matches the complete ID string.[15]
RFID can be used in a variety of applications,[19][20] such
Access management
Tracking of goods
Tracking of persons and animals
Toll collection and contactless payment
An example of a binary tree method of identifying an RFID tag

Both methods have drawbacks when used with many tags

or with multiple overlapping readers. Bulk reading is a
strategy for interrogating multiple tags at the same time,
but lacks sucient precision for inventory control.



Machine readable travel documents

Smartdust (for massively distributed sensor networks)
Tracking sports memorabilia to verify authenticity
Airport baggage tracking logistics[21]
Timing sporting events

RFIDs are easy to conceal or incorporate in other items.

For example, in 2009 researchers at Bristol University In 2010 three factors drove a signicant increase in RFID
successfully glued RFID micro-transponders to live ants usage: decreased cost of equipment and tags, increased


Electronic key for RFID based lock system

Electronic Lock with RFID Card System, ANSI

performance to a reliability of 99.9% and a stable international standard around UHF passive RFID. The adoption
of these standards were driven by EPCglobal, a joint venture between GS1 and GS1 US, which were responsible
for driving global adoption of the barcode in the 1970s An EPC RFID tag used by Wal-Mart.
and 1980s. The EPCglobal Network was developed by
the Auto-ID Center.[22]



RFID provides a way for organizations to identify and

manage tools and equipment (asset tracking) , without
manual data entry. RFID is being adopted for item level
tagging in retail stores. This provides electronic article
surveillance (EAS), and a self checkout process for consumers. Automatic identication with RFID can be used
for inventory systems. Manufactured products such as au- Sewn-in RFID label in garment manufactured by the French
tomobiles or garments can be tracked through the factory sports supplier Decathlon. Front, back, and transparency scan.
and through shipping to the customer.
Casinos can use RFID to authenticate poker chips, and have published requirements that their vendors place
can selectively invalidate any chips known to be stolen.[23] RFID tags on all shipments to improve supply chain manWal-Mart and the United States Department of Defense agement.


Transportation and logistics

Access control

3.2 Transportation and logistics

Yard management, shipping and freight and distribution
centers use RFID tracking. In the railroad industry, RFID
tags mounted on locomotives and rolling stock identify
the owner, identication number and type of equipment
and its characteristics. This can be used with a database
to identify the lading, origin, destination, etc. of the commodities being carried.[27]
In commercial aviation, RFID is used to support maintenance on commercial aircraft. RFID tags are used
to identify baggage and cargo at several airports and
Some countries are using RFID for vehicle registration
and enforcement.[30] RFID can help detect and retrieve
stolen cars.[31][32]

3.2.1 Intelligent transportation systems

RFID antenna for vehicular access control

RFID tags are widely used in identication badges, replacing earlier magnetic stripe cards. These badges need
only be held within a certain distance of the reader to authenticate the holder. Tags can also be placed on vehicles, which can be read at a distance, to allow entrance
to controlled areas without having to stop the vehicle and RFID E-ZPass reader attached to the pole and antenna (right)
used in trac monitoring in New York City
present a card or enter an access code.
RFID is used in intelligent transportation systems. In
New York City, RFID readers are deployed at intersections to track E-ZPass tags as a means for monitoring the
In 2010 Vail Resorts began using UHF Passive RFID tags trac ow. The data is fed through the broadband wirein ski passes. Facebook is using RFID cards at most of less infrastructure to the trac management center to be
their live events to allow guests to automatically capture used in adaptive trac control of the trac lights.[33]
and post photos. The automotive brands have adopted
RFID for social media product placement more quickly
than other industries. Mercedes was an early adopter in
3.2.2 Hose stations and conveyance of uids
2011 at the PGA Golf Championships,[24] and by the
2013 Geneva Motor Show many of the larger brands were
The RFID antenna in a permanently installed couusing RFID for social media marketing.[25]
pling half (xed part) unmistakably identies the RFID
transponder placed in the other coupling half (free part)
after completed coupling. When connected the transpon3.1.3 Promotion tracking
der of the free part transmits all important information
To prevent retailers diverting products, manufacturers contactless to the xed part. The couplings location can
are exploring the use of RFID tags on promoted merchan- be clearly identied by the RFID transponder coding.
dise so that they can track exactly which product has sold The control is enabled to automatically start subsequent
through the supply chain at fully discounted prices.[26]
process steps.




Track & Trace test vehicles and prototype on the front cover.
Since 2006, RFID tags included in new United States
passports will store the same information that is printed
In the automotive industry RFID is used to Track & Trace within the passport, and include a digital picture of the
test vehicles and prototype parts (project Transparent owner.[36] The United States Department of State initially
stated the chips could only be read from a distance of 10
centimetres (3.9 in), but after widespread criticism and a
clear demonstration that special equipment can read the
3.3 Public transport
test passports from 10 metres (33 ft) away,[37] the passports were designed to incorporate a thin metal lining to
RFID cards are used for access control to public transmake it more dicult for unauthorized readers to "skim"
information when the passport is closed. The department
In London travellers use Oyster Cards on the tube, buses will also implement Basic Access Control (BAC), which
and ferries. It identies the traveller at each turnstile and functions as a Personal Identication Number (PIN) in
so the system can calculate the fare.
the form of characters printed on the passport data page.
In the Chicago area, riders use the open standard Ventra Before a passports tag can be read, this PIN must be encard to board CTA buses and trains, along with PACE tered into an RFID reader. The BAC also enables the
encryption of any communication between the chip and
interrogator.[38] As noted in the section below on secuIn Ontario, Canada, riders in the GTA and Ottawa Area rity, there are many situations in which these protections
use the Presto card to board trains, buses and street cars have been shown to be insucient, and passports have
across multiple dierent transit companies.
been cloned based on scans of them while they were being delivered in the mail.


Infrastructure management and protection

3.6 Transportation payments

At least one company has introduced RFID to identify In many countries, RFID tags can be used to pay for mass
and locate underground infrastructure assets such as gas transit fares on bus, trains, or subways, or to collect tolls
pipelines, sewer lines, electrical cables, communication on highways.
cables, etc.[34]
Some bike lockers are operated with RFID cards assigned
to individual users. A prepaid card is required to open or
enter a facility or locker and is used to track and charge
3.5 Passports
based on how long the bike is parked.
See also: Biometric passport
The Zipcar car-sharing service uses RFID cards for locking and unlocking cars and for member identication.[39]
The rst RFID passports ("E-passport") were issued by In Singapore, RFID replaces paper Season Parking Ticket
Malaysia in 1998. In addition to information also con- (SPT).[40]
tained on the visual data page of the passport, Malaysian
e-passports record the travel history (time, date, and
place) of entries and exits from the country.
3.7 Animal identication
Other countries that insert RFID in passports include
Norway (2005),[35] Japan (March 1, 2006), most EU
countries (around 2006), Australia, Hong Kong, the
United States (2007), India (June 2008), Serbia (July
2008), Republic of Korea (August 2008), Taiwan (December 2008), Albania (January 2009), The Philippines (August 2009), Republic of Macedonia (2010), and
Canada (2013).

RFID tags for animals represent one of the oldest uses of

RFID. Originally meant for large ranches and rough terrain, since the outbreak of mad-cow disease, RFID has
become crucial in animal identication management. An
implantable RFID tag or transponder can also be used
for animal identication. The transponders are more well
known as passive RFID, or "chips" on animals.[41] The
Canadian Cattle Identication Agency began using RFID
tags as a replacement for barcode tags. Currently CCIA
tags are used in Wisconsin and by United States farmers
on a voluntary basis. The USDA is currently developing
its own program.

Standards for RFID passports are determined by the

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and
are contained in ICAO Document 9303, Part 1, Volumes 1 and 2 (6th edition, 2006). ICAO refers to the
ISO/IEC 14443 RFID chips in e-passports as contactless integrated circuits. ICAO standards provide for e- RFID tags are required for all cattle, sheep and goats sold
passports to be identiable by a standard e-passport logo in Australia.[42]




Human identication

An RFID microchip implant

Implantable RFID chips designed for animal tagging are

now being used in humans. An early experiment with
RFID implants was conducted by British professor of
cybernetics Kevin Warwick, who implanted a chip in his
arm in 1998. In 2004 Conrad Chase oered implanted
chips in his night clubs in Barcelona[43] and Rotterdam to
identify their VIP customers, who in turn use it to pay for

RFID tracking solutions are able to help healthcare facilities manage mobile medical equipment, improve patient
workow, monitor environmental conditions, and protect
patients, sta and visitors from infection or other hazards.
Adoption of RFID in the medical industry has been
widespread and very eective. Hospitals are among the
rst users to combine both active and passive RFID.
Many successful deployments in the healthcare industry have been cited where active technology tracks highvalue, or frequently moved items, where passive technology tracks smaller, lower cost items that only need
room-level identication.[49] For example, medical facility rooms can collect data from transmissions of RFID
badges worn by patients and employees, as well as from
tags assigned to facility assets, such as mobile medical
devices.[50] The U.S. Department of Veterans Aairs
(VA) recently announced plans to deploy RFID in hospitals across America to improve care and reduce costs.[51]

A physical RFID tag may be incorporated with browserbased software to increase its ecacy. This software allows for dierent groups or specic hospital sta, nurses,
and patients to see real-time data relevant to each piece of
tracked equipment or personnel. Real-time data is stored
and archived to make use of historical reporting functionality and to prove compliance with various industry regulations. This combination of RFID real-time locating sysThe Food and Drug Administration in the United States tem hardware and software provides a powerful data colhas approved the use of RFID chips in humans.[44] Some lection tool for facilities seeking to improve operational
business establishments give customers the option of us- eciency and reduce costs.
ing an RFID-based tab to pay for service, such as the Baja The trend is toward using ISO 18000-6c as the tag of
Beach nightclub in Barcelona.[45] This has provoked con- choice and combining an active tagging system that recerns into privacy of individuals as they can potentially be lies on existing 802.11X wireless infrastructure for active
tracked wherever they go by an identier unique to them. tags.
Some are concerned this could lead to abuse by an auSince 2004 a number of U.S. hospitals have bethoritarian government, to removal of freedoms,[46] and
gun implanting patients with RFID tags and using
to the emergence of an ultimate panopticon", a society
RFID systems, usually for workow and inventory
where all citizens behave in a socially accepted manner
management.[52][53][54] The use of RFID to prevent mix[47]
because others might be watching.
ups between sperm and ova in IVF clinics is also being
On July 22, 2006, Reuters reported that two hackers, considered.[55]
Newitz and Westhues, at a conference in New York City
In October 2004, the FDA approved USAs rst RFID
showed that they could clone the RFID signal from a
chips that can be implanted in humans. The 134 kHz
human implanted RFID chip, showing that the chip is
RFID chips, from VeriChip Corp. can incorporate per[48]
not hack-proof as was previously claimed. Privacy adsonal medical information and could save lives and limit
vocates have protested against implantable RFID chips,
injuries from errors in medical treatments, according to
warning of potential abuse. There is much controversy
the company. Anti-RFID activists Katherine Albrecht
regarding human applications of this technology, and
and Liz McIntyre discovered an FDA Warning Letter
many conspiracy theories abound in relation to human apthat spelled out health risks.[56] According to the FDA,
plications, especially one of which is referred to as "The
these include adverse tissue reaction, migration of the
Mark of the Beast" in some religious circles.
implanted transponder, failure of implanted transponder, electrical hazards and magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] incompatibility.




Hospitals and healthcare

In Healthcare, there is a need for increased visibility, eciency, and gathering of data around relevant interactions.


gets are being reduced for personnel and increased for infrastructure, making it necessary for libraries to add automation to compensate for the reduced sta size. Also,
the tasks that RFID takes over are largely not the primary tasks of librarians. A nding in the Netherlands
is that borrowers are pleased with the fact that sta are
now more available for answering questions.
Privacy concerns have been raised surrounding library
use of RFID. Because some RFID tags can be read from
up to 100 metres (330 ft), there is some concern over
whether sensitive information could be collected from an
unwilling source. However, library RFID tags do not contain any patron information,[60] and the tags used in the
majority of libraries use a frequency only readable from
approximately 10 feet (3.0 m).[57] Further, another nonlibrary agency could potentially record the RFID tags of
every person leaving the library without the library administrators knowledge or consent. One simple option is
to let the book transmit a code that has meaning only in
conjunction with the librarys database. Another possible
enhancement would be to give each book a new code evRFID tags used in libraries: square book tag, round CD/DVD tag ery time it is returned. In future, should readers become
and rectangular VHS tag
ubiquitous (and possibly networked), then stolen books
could be traced even outside the library. Tag removal
could be made dicult if the tags are so small that they
3.9.2 Libraries
t invisibly inside a (random) page, possibly put there by
Libraries have used RFID to replace the barcodes on li- the publisher.
brary items. The tag can contain identifying information
or may just be a key into a database. An RFID system 3.9.3 Museums
may replace or supplement bar codes and may oer another method of inventory management and self-service RFID technologies are now also implemented in end-user
checkout by patrons. It can also act as a security device, applications in museums. An example was the customtaking the place of the more traditional electromagnetic designed temporary research application, eXspot, at the
security strip.[57]
Exploratorium, a science museum in San Francisco, CalIt is estimated that over 30 million library items world- ifornia. A visitor entering the museum received an RF
wide now contain RFID tags, including some in the Tag that could be carried as a card. The eXspot system
enabled the visitor to receive information about specic
Vatican Library in Rome.[58]
exhibits. Aside from the exhibit information, the visitor
Since RFID tags can be read through an item, there is
could take photographs of themselves at the exhibit. It
no need to open a book cover or DVD case to scan an
was also intended to allow the visitor to take data for later
item, and a stack of books can be read simultaneously.
analysis. The collected information could be retrieved at
Book tags can be read while books are in motion on a
home from a personalized website keyed to the RFID
conveyor belt, which reduces sta time. This can all be
done by the borrowers themselves, reducing the need for
library sta assistance. With portable readers, inventories could be done on a whole shelf of materials within 3.9.4 Schools and universities
seconds.[59] However, as of 2008 this technology remains
too costly for many smaller libraries, and the conversion School authorities in the Japanese city of Osaka are now
period has been estimated at 11 months for an average- chipping childrens clothing, backpacks, and student IDs
size library. A 2004 Dutch estimate was that a library in a primary school.[62] A school in Doncaster, England
which lends 100,000 books per year should plan on a cost is piloting a monitoring system designed to keep tabs on
of 50,000 (borrow- and return-stations: 12,500 each, pupils by tracking radio chips in their uniforms.[63] St
detection porches 10,000 each; tags 0.36 each). RFID Charles Sixth Form College in west London, England,
taking a large burden o sta could also mean that fewer started September, 2008, is using an RFID card system
sta will be needed, resulting in some of them getting laid to check in and out of the main gate, to both track ato,[58] but that has so far not happened in North Amer- tendance and prevent unauthorized entrance. Similarly,
ica where recent surveys have not returned a single library Whitclie Mount School in Cleckheaton, England uses
that cut sta because of adding RFID. In fact, library bud- RFID to track pupils and sta in and out of the building


Complement to barcode

via a specially designed card. In the Philippines, some

schools already use RFID in IDs for borrowing books and
also gates in those particular schools have RFID ID scanners for buying items at a school shop and canteen, library
and also to sign in and sign out for student and teachers

3.10 Sports

tied to the shoe or velcro strapped the ankle. These need
to be about 400mm from the mat and so give very good
temporal resolution. Alternatively a chip plus a very large
(a 125mm square) antenna can be incorporated into the
bib number worn on the athletes chest at about 1.25m
Passive and active RFID systems are used in o-road
events such as Orienteering, Enduro and Hare and
Hounds racing. Riders have a transponder on their person, normally on their arm. When they complete a lap
they swipe or touch the receiver which is connected to a
computer and log their lap time.
RFID is being adapted by many recruitment agencies
which have a PET (Physical Endurance Test) as their
qualifying procedure especially in cases where the candidate volumes may run into millions (Indian Railway Recruitment Cells, Police and Power sector).

A number of ski resorts have adopted RFID tags to provide skiers hands-free access to ski lifts. Skiers do not
have to take their passes out of their pockets. Ski jackets have a left pocket into which the chip+card ts. This
nearly contacts the sensor unit on the left of the turnstile
as the skier pushes through to the lift. These systems were
based on high frequency (HF) at 13.56 megahertz. The
bulk of ski areas in Europe, from Verbier to Chamonix
RFID for timing races began in the early 1990s with pi- use these systems.[64][65][66]
geon racing, introduced by the company Deister Elec- The NFL in the United States equips players with RFID
tronics in Germany. RFID can provide race start and end chips that measures speed, distance and direction travtimings for individuals in large races where it is impossi- eled by each player in real-time. Currently cameras stay
ble to get accurate stopwatch readings for every entrant. focused on the quarterback, however, numerous plays are
In the race, the racers wear tags that are read by antennas
placed alongside the track or on mats across the track.
UHF tags provide accurate readings with specially designed antennas. Rush error, lap count errors and accidents at start time are avoided since anyone can start and
nish any time without being in a batch mode.

happening simultaneously on the eld. The RFID chip

will provide new insight into these simultaneous plays.[67]
The chip triangulates the players position within six
inches and will be used to digitally broadcast replays. The
RFID chip will make individual player information accessible to the public. The data will be available via the NFL
2015 app.[68] The RFID chips are manufactured by Zebra
Technologies. Zebra Technologies tested the RFID chip
in 18 stadiums last year to track vector data.[69]

3.11 Complement to barcode

RFID tags are often a complement, but not a substitute,
for UPC or EAN barcodes. They may never completely
replace barcodes, due in part to their higher cost and
the advantage of multiple data sources on the same object. Also, unlike RFID labels, barcodes can be generated
and distributed electronically, e.g. via e-mail or mobile
phone, for printing or display by the recipient. An example is airline boarding passes. The new EPC, along with
J-Chip 8-channel receiver next to timing mat. The athlete wears several other schemes, is widely available at reasonable
a chip on a strap around his ankle. Ironman Germany 2007 in

The storage of data associated with tracking items will

The design of chip+antenna controls the range from require many terabytes. Filtering and categorizing RFID
which it can be read. Short range compact chips are twist data is needed to create useful information. It is likely



that goods will be tracked by the pallet using RFID tags, ection mode, active circuits can be used, replacing awkand at package level with Universal Product Code (UPC) ward RFID antennae with photovoltaic components and
or EAN from unique barcodes.
IR-LEDs on the ICs.One of the earliest examples of OpThe unique identity is a mandatory requirement for RFID tical RFID is RFIG: Radio Frequency Identity and Getags, despite special choice of the numbering scheme. ometry, by Ramesh Raskar, Paul Dietz, Paul Beardsley
RFID tag data capacity is large enough that each individ- and colleagues. This combines an optical tag with a RF
ual tag will have a unique code, while current bar codes tag to provide ID as well as geometric operations, such as
are limited to a single type code for a particular product. location, pose, motion, orientation and change detection.
The uniqueness of RFID tags means that a product may
be tracked as it moves from location to location, nally
ending up in the consumers hands. This may help to combat theft and other forms of product loss. The tracing of
products is an important feature that gets well supported
with RFID tags containing a unique identity of the tag and
also the serial number of the object. This may help companies cope with quality deciencies and resulting recall
campaigns, but also contributes to concern about tracking
and proling of consumers after the sale.

Regarding privacy, optical RFID provides much more

protection against abuse than RFID based on common
electromagnetic waves. This is mainly because line-ofsight is required for malicious read out. Such an attack
can easily be prevented with low cost optical RFID sight
blockers. Nevertheless, if needed some penetration of
solids and liquids can be achieved e.g. with near-IR wavelengths.

5 Regulation and standardization

3.12 Telemetry

A number of organizations have set standards for RFID,

including the International Organization for StandardizaActive RFID tags also have the potential to function as tion (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commislow-cost remote sensors that broadcast telemetry back to sion (IEC), ASTM International, the DASH7 Alliance
a base station. Applications of tagometry data could in- and EPCglobal.
clude sensing of road conditions by implanted beacons,
There are also several specic industries that have set
weather reports, and noise level monitoring.[70]
guidelines. These industries include the Financial SerPassive RFID tags can also report sensor data. For ex- vices Technology Consortium (FSTC) which has set a
ample, the Wireless Identication and Sensing Platform standard for tracking IT Assets with RFID, the Comis a passive tag that reports temperature, acceleration and puter Technology Industry Association CompTIA which
capacitance to commercial Gen2 RFID readers.
has set a standard for certifying RFID engineers, and the
It is possible that active or battery-assisted passive (BAP) International Airlines Transport Association IATA which
RFID tags, could broadcast a signal to an in-store receiver has set tagging guidelines for luggage in airports.
to determine whether the RFID tag (product) is in the In principle, every country can set its own rules for
frequency allocation for RFID tags, and not all radio

Optical RFID

Optical RFID (aka OPID) is an alternative to RFID that is

based on optical readers. Applications for optical RFID
tags may be found in future supply chain scenarios. The
main advantage in comparison to traditional RFID tags
is their low price and the usually employed oine preaggregation of data to the class level.
Unlike most other RFID chips (which use radio
frequencies of 0.1250.1342, 0.1400.1485, 13.56,
and 868928 MHz), optical RFID operates in the
electromagnetic spectrum between the frequencies of 333
THz (3.331014 hertz, 900 nm) and 380 THz (788 nm)
and 750 THz (400 nm). The tag information is communicated to the reader by reecting the read request.
Parts of the incoming signal are ltered by the tag in a
well-dened way as it is sent back to the reader. On the
readers side, the tag data can be deduced by analysing
the pattern used for ltering.[71] As an alternative to re-

bands are available in all countries. These frequencies are

known as the ISM bands (Industrial Scientic and Medical bands). The return signal of the tag may still cause
interference for other radio users.
Low-frequency (LF: 125134.2 kHz and 140148.5
kHz) (LowFID) tags and high-frequency (HF: 13.56
MHz) (HighFID) tags can be used globally without
a license.
Ultra-high-frequency (UHF: 865928 MHz) (UltraHighFID or UHFID) tags cannot be used globally
as there is no single global standard and regulations
dier from country to country.
In North America, UHF can be used unlicensed for 902
928 MHz (13 MHz from the 915 MHz center frequency), but restrictions exist for transmission power. In
Europe, RFID and other low-power radio applications are
regulated by ETSI recommendations EN 300 220 and
EN 302 208, and ERO recommendation 70 03, allowing RFID operation with somewhat complex band restric-


EPC Gen2


tions from 865868 MHz. Readers are required to monitor a channel before transmitting (Listen Before Talk);
this requirement has led to some restrictions on performance, the resolution of which is a subject of current
research. The North American UHF standard is not accepted in France as it interferes with its military bands.
On July 25, 2012, Japan changed its UHF band to 920
MHz, more closely matching the United States 915 MHz

ISO/IEC 21481 Information technology

Telecommunications and information exchange
between systemsNear Field Communication
Interface and Protocol 2 (NFCIP-2)

In some countries, a site license is needed, which needs to

be applied for at the local authorities, and can be revoked.

ASTM D7435, Standard Test Method for Determining the Performance of Passive Radio Frequency
Identication (RFID) Transponders on Loaded

According to an overview assembled by GS1, as of 31

October 2014, regulations are in place in 78 countries
representing ca. 96.5% of the worlds GDP, and work on
regulations is in progress in 3 countries representing circa
1% of the worlds GDP.[72]
Standards that have been made regarding RFID include:
ISO 14223 Radiofrequency [sic] identication of
animals Advanced transponders
ISO/IEC 14443: This standard is a popular HF
(13.56 MHz) standard for HighFIDs which is being used as the basis of RFID-enabled passports under ICAO 9303. The Near Field Communication
standard that lets mobile devices act as RFID readers/transponders is also based on ISO/IEC 14443.
ISO/IEC 15693: This is also a popular HF (13.56
MHz) standard for HighFIDs widely used for noncontact smart payment and credit cards.
ISO/IEC 18000: Information technologyRadio
frequency identication for item management:
Part 1: Reference architecture and denition
of parameters to be standardized
Part 2: Parameters for air interface communications below 135 kHz
Part 3: Parameters for air interface communications at 13.56 MHz

ASTM D7434, Standard Test Method for Determining the Performance of Passive Radio Frequency
Identication (RFID) Transponders on Palletized or
Unitized Loads

ASTM D7580, Standard Test Method for Rotary

Stretch Wrapper Method for Determining the Readability of Passive RFID Transponders on Homogenous Palletized or Unitized Loads
ISO 28560-2 : species encoding standards and data
model to be used within libraries.[73]
In order to ensure global interoperability of products, several organizations have set up additional standards for
RFID testing. These standards include conformance, performance and interoperability tests.
Groups concerned with standardization are:
DASH7 Alliance an international industry group
formed in 2009 to promote standards and interoperability among extensions to ISO/IEC 18000-7
EPCglobal this is the standardization framework
that is most likely to undergo international standardisation according to ISO rules as with all sound
standards in the world, unless residing with limited
scope, as customs regulations, air-trac regulations
and others. Currently the big distributors and governmental customers are pushing EPC heavily as a
standard well-accepted in their community, but not
yet regarded as for salvation to the rest of the world.

Part 4: Parameters for air interface communi5.1

cations at 2.45 GHz

EPC Gen2

Part 6: Parameters for air interface communi- EPC Gen2 is short for EPCglobal UHF Class 1 Generation
cations at 860960 MHz
Part 7: Parameters for active air interface EPCglobal, a joint venture between GS1 and GS1 US, is
communications at 433 MHz
working on international standards for the use of mostly
passive RFID and the Electronic Product Code (EPC) in
ISO/IEC 18092 Information technology the identication of many items in the supply chain for
Telecommunications and information exchange companies worldwide.
between systemsNear Field Communication
One of the missions of EPCglobal was to simplify the BaInterface and Protocol (NFCIP-1)
bel of protocols prevalent in the RFID world in the 1990s.
ISO 18185: This is the industry standard for elec- Two tag air interfaces (the protocol for exchanging infortronic seals or e-seals for tracking cargo containers mation between a tag and a reader) were dened (but not
using the 433 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies.
ratied) by EPCglobal prior to 2003. These protocols,



commonly known as Class 0 and Class 1, saw signicant 6.3 Security concerns
commercial implementation in 20022005.
In 2004, the Hardware Action Group created a new proto- Retailers such as Walmart, which already heavily use
col, the Class 1 Generation 2 interface, which addressed RFID for inventory purposes, also use RFID as an antia number of problems that had been experienced with employee-theft and anti-shoplifting technology. If a
Class 0 and Class 1 tags. The EPC Gen2 standard was product with an active RFID tag passes the exit-scanners
approved in December 2004. This was approved after a at a Walmart outlet, not only does it set o an alarm, but it
contention from Intermec that the standard may infringe a also tells security personnel exactly what product to look
number of their RFID-related patents. It was decided that for in the shoppers cart.
the standard itself does not infringe their patents, mak- A primary RFID security concern is the illicit tracking of
ing the standard royalty free.[75] The EPC Gen2 standard RFID tags. Tags, which are world-readable, pose a risk to
was adopted with minor modications as ISO 18000-6C both personal location privacy and corporate/military sein 2006.[76]
curity. Such concerns have been raised with respect to the
In 2007, the lowest cost of Gen2 EPC inlay was oered United States Department of Defense's recent adoption of
More genby the now-defunct company SmartCode, at a price of RFID tags for supply chain management.
$0.05 apiece in volumes of 100 million or more. Nev- erally, privacy organizations have expressed concerns in
ertheless, further conversion (including additional label the context of ongoing eorts to embed electronic prodstock or encapsulation processing/insertion and freight uct code (EPC) RFID tags in consumer products. This is
costs to a given facility or DC) and of the inlays into us- mostly as result of the fact that RFID tags can be read,
able RFID labels and the design of current Gen 2 protocol and legitimate transactions with readers can be eavesstandard will increase the total end-cost, especially with dropped, from non-trivial distances. RFID used in access
the added security feature extensions for RFID Supply control, payment and eID (e-passport) systems operate at
a shorter range than EPC RFID systems but are also vulChain item-level tagging.
nerable to skimming and eavesdropping, albeit at shorter
A second method of prevention is by using cryptography. Rolling codes and challenge-response authentication
6 Problems and concerns
(CRA) are commonly used to foil monitor-repetition of
the messages between the tag and reader; as any messages
that have been recorded would prove to be unsuccessful
6.1 Data ooding
on repeat transmission. Rolling codes rely upon the tags
id being changed after each interrogation, while CRA
Not every successful reading of a tag (an observation) is uses software to ask for a cryptographically coded reuseful for business purposes. A large amount of data may sponse from the tag. The protocols used during CRA can
be generated that is not useful for managing inventory or be symmetric, or may use public key cryptography.[83]
other applications. For example, a customer moving a Security concerns exist in regard to privacy over the
product from one shelf to another, or a pallet load of ar- unauthorized reading of RFID tags. Unauthorized readticles that passes several readers while being moved in ers can potentially use RFID information to identify or
a warehouse, are events that do not produce data that is track packages, consumers, carriers, or the contents of a
meaningful to an inventory control system.[78]
package.[83] Several prototype systems are being develEvent ltering is required to reduce this data inow to a
meaningful depiction of moving goods passing a threshold. Various concepts have been designed, mainly oered
as middleware performing the ltering from noisy and redundant raw data to signicant processed data.


oped to combat unauthorized reading, including RFID

signal interruption,[84] as well as the possibility of legislation, and 700 scientic papers have been published on
this matter since 2002.[85] There are also concerns that
the database structure of Object Naming Services may
be susceptible to inltration, similar to denial-of-service
attacks, after the EPCglobal Network ONS root servers
were shown to be vulnerable.[86]

Global standardization

The frequencies used for UHF RFID in the USA are currently incompatible with those of Europe or Japan. Furthermore, no emerging standard has yet become as universal as the barcode.[79] To address international trade
concerns, it is necessary to use a tag that is operational
within all of the international frequency domains.

6.4 Exploitation
Ars Technica reported in March 2006 an RFID buer
overow bug that could infect airport terminal RFID
databases for baggage, and also passport databases to obtain condential information on the passport holder.[87]




In an eort to standardize and make it easier to process

passports, several countries have implemented RFID in
passports, despite security and privacy issues.[88] The encryption on UK chips was broken in under 48 hours.[89]
Since that incident, further eorts have allowed researchers to clone passport data while the passport is being mailed to its owner. Where a criminal used to need to
secretly open and then reseal the envelope, now it can be
done without detection, adding some degree of insecurity
to the passport system.[90]



In an eort to prevent the passive skimming of RFIDenabled cards or passports, the U.S. General Services
Administration (GSA) issued a set of test procedures
for evaluating electromagnetically opaque sleeves.[91] For
shielding products to be in compliance with FIPS-201
guidelines, they must meet or exceed this published standard. Shielding products currently evaluated as FIPS201 compliant are listed on the website of the U.S. CIOs
FIPS-201 Evaluation Program.[92] The United States government requires that when new ID cards are issued, they
must be delivered with an approved shielding sleeve or
Further information: Aluminium foil Electromagnetic
There are contradicting opinions as to whether aluminum
can prevent reading of RFID chips. Some people claim
that aluminum shielding, essentially creating a Faraday
cage, does work.[94] Others claim that simply wrapping
an RFID card in aluminum foil only makes transmission
more dicult and is not completely eective at preventing
Shielding eectiveness depends on the frequency being
used. Low-frequency LowFID tags, like those used in
implantable devices for humans and pets, are relatively
resistant to shielding though thick metal foil will prevent
most reads. High frequency HighFID tags (13.56 MHz
smart cards and access badges) are sensitive to shielding
and are dicult to read when within a few centimetres
of a metal surface. UHF Ultra-HighFID tags (pallets and
cartons) are dicult to read when placed within a few
millimetres of a metal surface, although their read range
is actually increased when they are spaced 24 cm from
a metal surface due to positive reinforcement of the reected wave and the incident wave at the tag.

Logo of the anti-RFID campaign by German privacy group

digitalcourage (formerly FoeBuD).

7 Controversies
7.1 Privacy
The use of RFID has engendered considerable controversy and even product boycotts by consumer privacy advocates. Consumer privacy experts Katherine Albrecht
and Liz McIntyre are two prominent critics of the spychip technology. The two main privacy concerns regarding RFID are:
Since the owner of an item will not necessarily be
aware of the presence of an RFID tag and the tag
can be read at a distance without the knowledge of
the individual, it becomes possible to gather sensitive data about an individual without consent.
If a tagged item is paid for by credit card or in conjunction with use of a loyalty card, then it would be
possible to indirectly deduce the identity of the purchaser by reading the globally unique ID of that item
(contained in the RFID tag). This is only true if the
person doing the watching also had access to the loyalty card data and the credit card data, and the person with the equipment knows where you are going
to be.
Most concerns revolve around the fact that RFID tags afxed to products remain functional even after the products have been purchased and taken home and thus can
be used for surveillance and other purposes unrelated to
their supply chain inventory functions.[96]
The RFID Network argued that these fears are unfounded
in the rst episode of their syndicated cable TV series
by letting RF engineers demonstrate how RFID works .

They provided images of RF engineers driving an RFIDenabled van around a building and trying to take an inventory of items inside. They discussed satellite tracking of a
passive RFID tag, which is surprising since the maximum
range is under 200m.
The concerns raised by the above may be addressed in
part by use of the Clipped Tag. The Clipped Tag is an
RFID tag designed to increase consumer privacy. The
Clipped Tag has been suggested by IBM researchers Paul
Moskowitz and Guenter Karjoth. After the point of sale,
a consumer may tear o a portion of the tag. This allows
the transformation of a long-range tag into a proximity
tag that still may be read, but only at short range less
than a few inches or centimeters. The modication of the
tag may be conrmed visually. The tag may still be used
later for returns, recalls, or recycling.


7.2 Government control

Some individuals have grown to fear the loss of rights due
to RFID human implantation.
By early 2007, Chris Paget of San Francisco, California, showed that RFID information can be pulled from
individuals by using only $250 worth of equipment.
This supports the claim that with the information captured, it would be relatively simple to make counterfeit
According to ZDNet, critics believe that RFID will lead
to tracking individuals every movement and will be an invasion of privacy.[104] In the book SpyChips: How Major
Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every
Move by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre, one is encouraged to imagine a world of no privacy. Where your
every purchase is monitored and recorded in a database
and your every belonging is numbered. Where someone many states away or perhaps in another country has a
record of everything you have ever bought. Whats more,
they can be tracked and monitored remotely.[105]

However, read range is both a function of the reader and

the tag itself. Improvements in technology may increase
read ranges for tags. Tags may be read at longer ranges
than they are designed for by increasing reader power.
The limit on read distance then becomes the signal-tonoise ratio of the signal reected from the tag back to
the reader. Researchers at two security conferences have
demonstrated that passive Ultra-HighFID tags normally 7.3 Deliberate destruction in clothing and
other items
read at ranges of up to 30 feet, can be read at ranges of
50 to 69 feet using suitable equipment.[97][98]
According to an RSA laboratories FAQ, RFID tags can
In January 2004 privacy advocates from CASPIAN and
be destroyed by a standard microwave oven;[106] however
the German privacy group FoeBuD were invited to the
some types of RFID tags, particularly those constructed
METRO Future Store in Germany, where an RFID pito radiate using large metallic antennas (in particular RF
lot project was implemented. It was uncovered by accitags and EPC tags), may catch re if subjected to this
dent that METRO Payback customer loyalty cards conprocess for too long (as would any metallic item inside a
tained RFID tags with customer IDs, a fact that was dismicrowave oven). This simple method cannot safely be
closed neither to customers receiving the cards, nor to this
used to deactivate RFID features in electronic devices,
group of privacy advocates. This happened despite asor those implanted in living tissue, because of the risk
surances by METRO that no customer identication data
of damage to the host. However the time required is
was tracked and all RFID usage was clearly disclosed.
extremely short (a second or two of radiation) and the
During the UN World Summit on the Information So- method works in many other non-electronic and inaniciety (WSIS) between the 16th to 18 November 2005, mate items, long before heat or re become of concern.
founder of the free software movement, Richard StallSome RFID tags implement a kill command mechman, protested the use of RFID security cards by coveranism for permanently and irreversibly disabling them.
ing his card with aluminum foil.[100]
This mechanism can be applied if the chip itself is trusted
In 20042005 the Federal Trade Commission Sta con- or the mechanism is known by the person that wants to
ducted a workshop and review of RFID privacy concerns kill the tag.
and issued a report recommending best practices.[101]
UHF RFID tags that comply with the EPC2 Gen 2 Class
RFID was one of the main topics of 2006 Chaos Com- 1 standard usually support this mechanism, while promunication Congress (organized by the Chaos Computer tecting the chip from being killed with a password.[107]
Club in Berlin) and triggered a big press debate. Top- Guessing or cracking this needed 32-bit password for
ics included: electronic passports, Mifare cryptography killing a tag would not be dicult for a determined
and the tickets for the FIFA World Cup 2006. Talks attacker.[108]
showed how the rst real world mass application of RFID
at the 2006 FIFA Soccer World Cup worked. Group
monochrom staged a special 'Hack RFID' song.[102]
8 See also

Bin bug

[11] Sen, Dipankar; Sen, Prosenjit; Das, Anand M. (2009),

RFID For Energy and Utility Industries, PennWell, ISBN
978-1-59370-105-5, pp. 1-48

Chipless RFID
Internet of Things

[12] Weis, Stephen A. (2007), RFID (Radio Frequency Identication): Principles and Applications, MIT CSAIL

Mass surveillance

[13] Daniel M. Dobkin, The RF in RFID: Passive UHF RFID In

Practice, Newnes 2008 ISBN 978-0-7506-8209-1, chapter 8

Near Field Communication

Optical RFID

[14] John R. Vacca Computer and information security handbook, Morgan Kaufmann, 2009 ISBN 0-12-374354-0,
page 208

Privacy by design
Proximity card

[15] Bill Glover, Himanshu Bhatt ,RFID essentials, O'Reilly

Media, Inc., 2006 ISBN 0-596-00944-5, pages 88-89

Resonant inductive coupling

RFID on metal

[16] Ants home search habit uncovered. BBC News. 200904-22. Retrieved 2013-09-03.

RSA blocker tag

Smart label

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External links

UHF regulations overview by GS1

What is RFID? Educational video by The RFID
How RFID Works at HowStuWorks
Privacy concerns and proposed privacy legislation
What is RFID? - Animated Explanation
Hardgrave, Bill C.; Aloysius, John; Goyal, Sandeep
(2009). Does RFID improve inventory accuracy?
A preliminary analysis. International Journal of RF
Technologies: Research and Applications. 1 (1): 45
56. doi:10.1080/17545730802338333.
IEEE Council on RFID




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