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What constitutes as Internet of Things (IoT)? Making sense of RFID, Barcodes, QR codes, and BLE

  • Mahesh Tiwari
  • Jan 30, 2023
  • RFID

Internet of things (IoT), in year 2023, is all around us. From smart showers in our bathrooms that start automatically whenever someone stands beneath it, the key of our vehicle which sends a signal upon being pressed and an alarm goes off in our vehicle announcing its  presence in a sea of automobiles, to automatic parking barriers that open automatically, giving us entry/exit access.

IoT is used as smart cards (debit cards, hotel room key etc.), at POS (point of sale) in retail stores, smart tyres, in vehicles, at libraries, restaurants, banks, and at manufacturing hubs amongst others.

What really is IoT?

In simple terms, Internet of things (IoT) is a model where (1) some information is stored on objects typically via a barcode, QR code, chip and (2) there is some medium to connect this information to internet/web via a computer, a smart phone or a tablet as the gateway.

What is fuelling the IoT?

Internet of things has been around for quite some time now but a substantial progress in IoT can be attributed to the recent technological advent. Be it the accelerated manufacturing of chips that can store information, or Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that works on high frequency (HF) range around 13.56MHz, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), or ZigBee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) etc. Apart from these, mediums that connect IoT to internet such as smart phones, tablets and applications that make smart use of information embedded with objects, have accelerated the large scale adaptation of IoT in every field you can think of.

IoT with RFID, Barcodes, QR codes, and BLE:

AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Collection) technologies such as RFID, BLE, barcodes, QR codes, smartcards etc. have only fuelled the wide range adaptation of IoT but how to make sense of these technologies, you might ask. 

Here is what you must know about RFID, Barcodes, QR codes, and BLE:

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID):

RFID is a technology that works on radio frequency signals. It employs a RF subsystem including a RFID tag, antenna and a RFID reader.

When you tag an asset using a RFID tag where the tag contains (written with) the necessary information about the asset, it emits a RF signal when in the range of RFID reader antenna. The RFID reader then reads the data and sends it to a processing unit that can display as well as store the data, like a computer. Active RFID tags come with batteries and offer great range and also emit signals continuously.

Barcodes and QR codes:

Barcodes/ QR codes are images that can store data without chip.

Bar codes are one dimensional and can store only a small amount of data like a numerical id for an asset but QR codes are two dimensional, can be edited and store more data like a URL, image, text (say Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, 272 words),  a pdf, and even a google form. As an AIDC technology barcodes and QR codes are very important in IoT.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE):

BLE is a technology that uses Bluetooth signals to communicate. It works on a frequency range of 2.4 GHz and can share data within a range of up to 200m.

Popular for low consumption of power, when a BLE tag is attached to an asset, it sends signals which can be captured by Bluetooth equipped devices like smart phones, tablets etc. and the asset data can be seen on these devices.

BLE is mostly used for identification, and tracking of assets in retail stores, or warehouses.

To summarize, RFID, Barcodes, QR codes, and BLE have only accelerated the use of IoT in every sphere of life from office to residence and cars, from schools to libraries and cafeteria as well. IoT is all around us. 


  • Last updated on Jan 30, 2023