Since its launch, 45 years ago, the global positioning system (GPS), originally Navstar GPS, has completely revolutionized the tech world and location tracking. Physical maps have become obsolete and with nearly 67% of the world using smartphones, GPS is everywhere.
In simple terms, it uses GPS satellites and radio wave frequencies of LTE signals (4g- 600MHz-2.5 GHz band) to provide pin point location of an individual or an object.
But GPS is owned and operated by United States space force and it’s very costly. On the other hand, with technological maturity in RFID since its inception, the costs of RFID implementation have come down significantly; the passive RFID tags are now down to 4-5 cents per tag , nearly 10 times lower than what it was few years back. The large scale RFID implementation in retail and logistics have contributed to this significantly and the passive RFID market is headed for tremendous growth by 2025, according to statista.
RFID, short for radio frequency identification is an AIDC technology that is capable of capturing data remotely from a RFID tag using radio frequency signals and the RFID Reader can decode that data and send it to end user. But how does it work for location tracking? Identifying and locating where someone or something is?
RFID based location tracking:
Radio frequency identification uses radio waves to communicate between a RFID tag and a RFID reader through an antenna. The radio frequency ranges for RFID vary from low frequency (30-125-300 KHz) to high frequency (3-13.56-30MHz) and Ultra high frequency (300MHz 865-915MHz-3GHz) making it suitable for various applications in short and long range need basis.
For location tracking, RFID is used in two configuration mostly i.e. UHF Active RFID location tracking and UHF Passive RFID location tracking. Since Active RFID employs an active RFID transponder that is battery powered and doesn’t need RFID reader signal to power up, it can send strong RF signals up to a distance of 100m whereas UHF Passive RFID tags are without battery and need RF signals from a RFID reader to power up and these only provide a range of up to 15m.
Here’s a step by step guide on how to track location of an object or an individual using RFID:
1. RFID Tagging
2. RFID reader placement
3. RFID subsystem: software in place
For location tracking of an object or an individual, the first step is to select ideal RFID transponder that is capable of relaying signals as per the range needed. Then tag the designated article or animal/human with the selected RFID tag.
It is worth noting that tag selection is very important in this first step. RFID tag selection should be done depending on the indoor or outdoor use and the durability of the RFID tag. For outdoor use, it is suggested that you use hard tags that are capable of withstanding extreme outdoor conditions like heat, rain and snow.
RFID reader placement:
The second most important step for location tracking is setting up a right RFID reader or multiple RFID readers on various intersections that can catch RF signal coming from the transponder. The range of overall tracking will directly depend on this important step. If you are using multiple RFID readers at designated intersection, the location tracking range of the whole operation will significantly go up.
While selecting a right RFID reader, it is also worth noting that not all RFID readers can read all types of RFID tags. For example, a HF reader can’t detect a UHF RFID tag. SO it is crucial that you choose correct reader.
RFID subsystem: software in place
Once you have installed RFID reader(s) and asset is tagged with an RFID tag, you’ll need a RFID subsystem like a computer and software that can make sense of and store the data coming from the RFID transponder.
With data captured and stored in the computer while article moves from one place to another, the task of location tracking is completed.
It’s important to understand RFID location tracking is mostly suitable for indoor setting like a large warehouse, store etc. it is done using UHF passive RFID system. It is easy to implement and cost effective and provides great visibility without any error.
Active RFID system can also be used but it’s still very costly and businesses tend to go for GPS based tracking instead.
- Last updated on Dec 04, 2023