Home automation can be a challenging and daunting task, not to mention a very expensive one. But with RFID integration, you can make it a tad bit modular and cheaper. There are several benefits of home automation aside from it being unimaginably cool. It can provide better life quality to disabled people.
So, let’s jump into it and check out RFID integration for Smart Home Automation.
What is RFID Technology?
RFID refers to Radio Frequency Identification, it is a type of AIDC (Automatic Identification & Data Collection) technology. These systems use radio propagation to communicate data between tags and readers. For any such system to work, users need three basic components – Tag, Reader, and Antenna.
RF tags are small devices that have an inlay inside them, an inlay is a microchip connected to a small antenna, which is attached to a substrate layer. The reader consists of a Chip that can convert radio signals into readable format. And the Antenna, connected to the reader, the antennas are responsible for facilitating communication between the reader and the tag.
Initially, the reader uses the antenna to broadcast its radio signals, creating an electromagnetic field around it, known as the interrogation zone. We can classify this zone into two sections, namely: Near-Field Zone & Far-Field Zone. Depending on which zone the tag is in, it will use either inductive coupling or radiative coupling, respectively.
How Does an RFID System Work?
The users program the tag with the necessary information about the items they will attach to. Once the tag enters the interrogation zone of a reader, it will communicate with the reader using inductive or radiative coupling. In the case of Inductive coupling, the signals from the antenna of the reader will induce an electrical charge in the tag. The tag will use energy to broadcast a signal with its information.
Radiative coupling, on the other hand, uses a method called signal backscattering. The antenna in the tag reflects the signal coming from the reader. This reflected wave carries the information inside the tag’s chip back to the reader.
The antenna on the reader then receives these signals and sends them to the reader. The reader uses its chip to convert these signals into a readable format and sends it further to the computer. The computer uses special software designed to allow the Reader to communicate with it.
Applications of RFID in Smart Home Automation
Now that you know the basics of RFID technology, let’s talk more about its use in smart home applications. So, below are some of the uses RFID can have in creating an automated smart home.
Gate Access Control
The most common use of this technology in your home can be to automate entry access inside the house. Users can create customized RFID keys that work based on NFC. These keys can then be used to allow entry to only the members of the household, inside the house.
Use short-range antennas inside each room, then connect the readers to a centralized computer that connects to a light-controlling node, through the use of IoT. With the help of a simple system like this, you can automate the operation of lights inside individual rooms. As long as the person has the RFID key with them, the light will automatically turn on and off whenever they enter or leave a room, respectively.
Priming Alarm System
These systems can also work as auto locks and integrate with the house alarm system. In the absence of an RFID tag/key, the system can be programmed to automatically lock the doors and turn on the intruder alarm.
Users can install a linear polarized short-range antenna outside their garage opening, and install a windshield tag on their vehicles. Then connect the reader to the garage door motor switch. This will automate their parking access.
Users can also connect appliances like the Air Conditioner, Geyser, etc to the central computer node. Using this, the moment a key FOB is picked up inside the house, the computer will send the signals for these devices to be turned on.
How to Integrate RFID Into Homes?
Judging by what you read till now, you might think that it would be a piece of cake, to set up such a system. However, that is not the case. The biggest and one of the few problems with radio frequency identification technology is its complex installation. To integrate such a system within your household, you’ll have to follow these instructions, step-by-step.
(A). Purchase the correct components according to the size of your property, and the applications you want to use it for. For example, due to attenuation and signal degradation, you might want to stick to short-range readers with a range of a couple of feet.
(B). Purchase short-range antennas and passive RFID bands or key FOBs.
(C). Now comes the difficult part. Users need to install the antennas in the areas they need wireless coverage, like each room.
(D). Connect the readers to a computer node/microcontroller. The benefits of microcontrollers are that they are easy to program and are not that complex. However, a computer can use custom software to perform a variety of functions and algorithms. The computer is connected to a network node, either wired or wireless.
(E). Connect the appliances like lights, AC, etc to the same network node, this allows communication between the reader and the appliances going through the computer. The network node is responsible for routing the signals and instructions from the computer to the rest of the system.
(F). Now, users must program the software with instructions, protocols, and even custom profiles (personal preferences of device setting like temperature settings, brightness, etc.) for different FOBs.
(G). All that’s left is to program the Key/FOBs and test out the system.
We would urge you to hire a professional to perform the installation if you’re not skilled in the field of electronic engineering and software programming.
Cost of RFID Smart Home Integration
Now that you know about the installation challenges, let’s check out the average cost of implementing such a system. Based on the number of rooms and applications, the cost of software development and installation. These systems can cost anywhere from 2 to 5 lakh rupees, for integration within the whole house.
Advantages of RFID Smart Home Automation
Now you must be asking, why should you go through all this trouble? Is it even worth it? Well, we can’t answer the second question, that’s for you to decide. But, let us tell you some advantages of using RFID for home automation.
It can be very difficult for elderly people and disabled people to operate switches and appliances. This could be due to the complexity of the technology, or simply because they are out of reach. Smart home automation allows such people to live more comfortably with the help of others. It also helps them acquire a sense of independence.
Let’s be honest, most of us reading this blog right are even considering this idea for one purpose. It looks so cool. And everybody wants to feel like Iron Man. Well, that exact situation is not possible, but this will give you something a bit close to that. Having a personal profile with your preferences in the database will allow you to automatically customize the house.
We have all been embarrassed at times when we realize, we left the AC on for the whole day or forgot to switch off the light. These things can have a severe impact on your electricity bill. With the help of RFID home automation, you can program all the electricity-consuming devices in your house to power down in your absence.
How can we forget to mention that, although normal locks are pretty safe in everyday circumstances? However, they are not foolproof and can be broken into. However, if you replace it with an RFID-enabled lock, you won’t need a traditional key. And is significantly harder to create a fake radio frequency identification key.
Home automation can significantly improve one’s living conditions and quality of life. It is a godsend for people who suffer from disabilities or have difficulty moving repeatedly, like the elderly. Integrating RFID for this purpose is a great solution. You can make a custom system at a fraction of the cost and even make additions to it in the future.
- Last updated on Jun 15, 2023