What is an RFID Tag?

What is an RFID Tag?

The RFID tag consists of an integrated circuit (IC) attached to an antenna. Depending on the application, it may be passive or active.

Active RFID tags contain a transmitter and power source, and can communicate with readers over longer distances than passive tags. They can also survive harsher environments, such as freezing temperatures and chemicals.


The cost of RFID Tags depends on what features you need and how much data you want to collect. Generally speaking, RFID tags that harness the electromagnetic energy from the reader and are not active (transmitting their own signal) can be very inexpensive. Those that are active and have a battery are more expensive. Those that have extras like temperature or shock monitoring can be even more costly.

Using an RFID solution to manage inventory can drastically reduce labor costs. Whether it is tracking pallets, products or just equipment the process is much faster and more accurate than manually counting and scanning barcodes. The DoD and major retailers also require every item be labeled with RFID, making weekly inventory simple and fast.

To maximize ROI, it is essential to consider recurring costs when evaluating an RFID solution. These include printer ribbon, software licenses and annual maintenance. RFID Journal LIVE! provides a great opportunity to network with leading suppliers, manufacturers and providers of RFID technologies and identify new opportunities for your business.

If you’re considering implementing an RFID system, it is important to understand the available hardware and software options. A good place to start is by listing all the requirements your solution needs to provide, e.g. read range, memory capabilities and more. Then look for an RFID reader and tag that RFID Tag meet those requirements. For example, UHF RFID readers must be compatible with the frequency used by the tag you need to track.

Read Range

While read range is an important metric and can be helpful in selecting the right tags, it shouldn’t be relied upon alone. Tag selection should be based on the system requirements and in particular the environment in which it will be used. For example, metal and liquid can interfere with the readability of a tag. This may require special tags to work in these environments.

Another consideration is that read range is impacted by the orientation of the tag and reader. The antenna is a key element in the system and must be aligned correctly to achieve maximum read range. The most sensitive angle is face on but the pattern of readability can vary. For example, circularly polarized antennas provide a more consistent read pattern that is less dependent on orientation.

It is also essential to have the right hardware in place to ensure the highest performance. This includes the correct power settings on the reader and the correct receive sensitivity. It is a good idea to test and verify the settings in a conditioned environment. In most cases, a higher power setting will increase read range while a lower sensitivity will decrease it. However, it is worth pointing out that the most critical metric of all is reliability. This is measured by the percentage of reads that are successful versus those that fail.

Data Capabilities

One of the most significant advantages RFID brings to retail is accurate item-level inventory tracking. Using this information, retailers can know exactly what they have in stock in their stores and how much of each product remains at each stage of the supply chain. This data enables them to better leverage their greatest asset; the product. This allows retailers to keep up with demand and ensure that they have the right amount of each item in the correct store.

The ability to automate this process saves time and money by eliminating manual data entry and transcription errors that occur when working with large amounts of data. In addition, incorporating RFID into the manufacturing process reduces production costs and leads to lower material wastage, which translates into higher revenue for the business.

Aside from the accuracy of the technology, RFID tags can also provide data at a very fast rate. This allows them to perform hundreds of readings per second, which directly translates into higher productivity in the workplace.

There are two types of RFID chips available on the market; active and passive. Active RFID tags contain a battery that powers the microchip and transmits a signal to the reader. Passive RFID tags do not have their own power source and instead rely on electromagnetism to communicate with the reader. When the tag is in range of the reader, electromagnetic waves are transmitted from the reader to the antenna on the tag, which in turn sends a signal back to the reader.


Despite the benefits of RFID technology it poses certain security concerns that must be addressed properly before deployment. Some of these issues include skimming and eavesdropping.

Skimming happens when someone uses a handheld device to surreptitiously read a tag’s data. Eavesdropping occurs when the communication between a reader and a tag is intercepted, allowing scammers to steal information without ever knowing it. These threats can be minimized through proper protection of the equipment and by following best practices.

A good way to prevent both eavesdropping and skimming is through one-sided encryption. This involves the tag and reader each having a unique key that mifare desfire ev1 they use to decipher the line of code sent from one another. The tag then sends a corresponding line of code back to the reader that can only be deciphered with the same key. This method prevents skimming (as no other reader will know this special key) and eavesdropping as the communication between tag and reader is no longer readable.

While hacked tags are rare, it is possible for hackers to clone or spoof data. This can occur when a basic tag is used and a hacker knows what information is on the chip. This is done by altering the data stored on the tag to make it look like a valid item. This is most commonly seen in access control systems. This can be countered by using features on RAIN readers that allow for Impinj Protected Mode which obscures a tag’s memory.