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Chipless RFID: Applications

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Sep 09, 2023
  • RFID
Chipless RFID: Applications

As Industry 4.0, a new era of the industrial revolution continues with the ambitions of the third industrial revolution which dreamt of using the internet and internet of things, robots, and AI for industries and businesses, we are witnessing widespread automation in not only businesses but in personal spaces as well. The use of modern technologies such as RFID, BLE, IoT sensors, industrial IoT, medical IoT, LoRa, simulation, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality), AI & ML, etc. have enabled unprecedented growth in industrial and commercial settings. The Internet of Things has played an important role here, specifically the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology.

RFID is an AIDC technology that is known for automatic identification and data capture using radio frequency (RF) signals. It has proven to be a proficient technology in asset management, retail store and inventory management, warehouse management, supply chain and logistics, vehicle tracking (India’s famous FASTag toll solution), transportation (London’s Oyster cards for rail and subways), etc. 

RFID technology is not new. It has been around since World War 2 but its commercial success is tied to the early 2000s when the Internet of Things took off as a technology. While retail giants like Walmart took initial steps to use RFID technology in their supply chains and in-store operations, the widespread applications that we see today were missing back then, more or less due to high RFID implementation costs, and limitations of internet technology. However, in the last few years, the costs of RFID tags and software have come down heavily as the cost of one RFID tag has come down to 4-5 US cents from 40-50 cents, earlier. This presents a great opportunity in terms of RFID adoption in small, medium, and large-scale adoption. 

Besides, advancement in the field of RFID where silicon chip is discarded in RFID tag manufacturing (Chipless RFID) has further brought down the cost of RFID tags at par with barcodes.

Chipless RFID and IoT

RFID is popular for track and trace applications in various market verticals but as an IoT, RFID is also used for sensing applications. While traditional RFID tags have an embedded silicon microchip with an antenna and the microchip is used for storing data about the tagged item, the sensing is done by sensors that are embedded with the Integrated Circuit. As an IoT, RFID sensors can be used for sensing temperature, humidity, fill level, toxic gases in the environment, etc. 

Chipless RFID is the latest advancement in the field of RFID technology where manufacturers replace the microchip with resonators and reflectors (conductive polymers), which work as substrate, and the data is encoded using linear encoding techniques such as Time Domain and Frequency Domain encoding. 

Since chipless RFID tags don’t require a microchip, the fabrication of chipless RFID tags is simple, unlike traditional RFID tags which are fabricated by costly, complex procedures due to the presence of IC. 

The low-cost chipless RFID tags present great opportunity in IoT applications. These tags are used as sensors in food supply chains where chipless RFID tags are integrated with the cold storage units to measure the temperature and humidity changes. These sensor tags collect data during food transport and effectively prevent food wastage throughout the supply chains.

Chipless RFID Sensors 

Chipless RFID sensors present a low-cost sensing opportunity in various business, administration, and personal domains. The design of chipless RFID sensors depends upon the sensing applications. Normally, sensing material is embedded/printed on the substrate and the sensing of temperature, strain, humidity, etc. is done by measuring the changes in the operating frequency of the tag (a change in the backscatter power of the RFID tag), and sometimes the geometry of the antenna. 

Chipless RFID sensors provide a low-cost alternative to large-scale sensing applications where IoT technology like BLE, proximity sensors, etc. are used and the cost of operation is too high. For example, in waste management, chipless RFID tags are attached to bins that are placed near parks and outside houses, hotels, etc. and when the bins are full, the chipless RFID sensors will inform the waste management team which can easily replace the bins/empty out the bins on time.

Applications of Chipless RFID

As a prominent technology, chipless RFID tags and chipless RFID sensors present great opportunities in various businesses. As the fabrication cost of chipless RFID is extremely low, it is easily adopted by low-budget, small business owners who seek to incorporate technology in day-to-day business operations, be it retail stores, warehousing, supply chain and logistics, or manufacturing. Businesses in healthcare and education also benefit from chipless RFID-based tracking and auto-identification of tagged assets. 

Let’s see some of the key applications of chipless RFID technology in various market verticals:

1. Retail and Inventory Management

In retail stores and warehouses, chipless RFID tags can be used to track inventory, monitor stock levels, and improve supply chain management. You can attach these tags to products or packaging for efficient and accurate inventory management leading to better control of business operations, inventory visibility, and profit.

2. Logistics and Supply Chain

Chipless RFID tags can be used to track and trace goods throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing to distribution as well. As an AIDC technology, chipless RFID enables real-time visibility and monitoring of shipments, reducing errors, improving efficiency, and enhancing security.

3. Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

Chipless RFID tags also find applications in healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. These tags are used for asset tracking, patient monitoring, and medication management as RFID provides accurate tracking of medical equipment, and monitoring of patient vital signs, and ensures the authenticity and integrity of pharmaceutical products.

4. Manufacturing and Industrial Applications

In manufacturing and industrial environments, chipless RFID tags can be used for asset tracking, process monitoring, and quality control. Manufacturing businesses and industries can tag tools and equipment with small chipless RFID tags and track and manage various tools, equipment, and components, improving operational efficiency and reducing downtime. These tags also ensure workers’ safety by monitoring machine utilization and repairs. 

Various Chipless RFID sensors can also be used to measure temperature, strain, humidity, and toxic gases in an industrial setting. 

5. Automotive and Aerospace

Chipless RFID tags can be used in the automotive and aerospace industries for asset tracking, maintenance, as well as various safety applications. 

While chipless RFID tags can help in tracking and managing vehicles, parts, and components, they also help in ensuring compliance with safety regulations and improving maintenance and repair processes.

6. Agriculture and Food Industry

Chipless RFID can be used in the agriculture and food industry for product tracking, traceability, quality control, animal tracking, food storage and monitoring, and ensuring food safety. Chipless RFID tags can help in tracking and monitoring the movement of agricultural products throughout the supply chains and improve supply chain transparency. 

As an IoT technology, Chipless RFID sensor tags can be used to sense soil health and monitor weather patterns, temperature, humidity as well and toxic gases in greenhouses, ensuring good crop yield and proper food/grain storage. 

7. Library and Document Management

Chipless RFID technology can be used in libraries and document management systems for efficient tracking and management of books, documents, and files. Various libraries are already using RFID technology for streamlining library operations including the library at IIT-Delhi, India, the Library of Congress, Washington, Seattle Public Libraries, etc. 

Chipless RFID tags can help in automating check-in/check-out processes, reducing manual labor, and improving inventory accuracy at extremely low costs of implementation since the fabrication of chipless RFID tags is inexpensive when compared to other such technologies, like BLE beacons, and traditional RFID tags. 

8. Waste Management and Recycling

Chipless RFID tags can be used in waste management and recycling systems for tracking and managing waste containers, optimizing collection routes as well and improving recycling processes. 

This technology can help in reducing waste, improving recycling rates, and enhancing sustainability efforts.

As an IoT technology, chipless RFID sensors can be used on waste bins and containers to sense fill-level ensuring timely replacement of occupied waste bins by empty ones and ensuring waste management and recycling. These tags are well suited to be used outside, so it is an inexpensive way to ensure a clean city and surroundings.

Chipless RFID and Wearables 

Apart from the above-mentioned applications of chipless RFID technology, as an IoT, the integration of chipless RFID technology in wearables has ushered in a new era of possibilities, offering a myriad of benefits and transforming the way we interact with technology in the form of wearables. 

Chipless RFID technology has the ability to provide unique identification and tracking capabilities without the need for traditional silicon-based chips (which means low-cost fabrication), which ensures a compelling use case for this technology in the realm of wearables.

Chipless RFID technology utilizes various encoding techniques such as frequency modulation, time domain reflectometry, and spectral signature analysis to encode and decode information. Armed with chipless RFID, wearables can wirelessly communicate with compatible devices or systems, providing real-time data exchange and enabling seamless connectivity. As an IoT, chipless RFID in wearables enables accurate and reliable tracking of vital health parameters, such as heart rate, temperature, and activity levels. And data transmission is so easy, this data can be seamlessly transmitted to health monitoring systems, empowering individuals to proactively manage their well-being and allowing healthcare professionals to make informed decisions.


To conclude, chipless RFID is a new way of RFID tagging and tracking but that is not all. It is extremely inexpensive, presenting new use cases for small and medium businesses in retail healthcare education, etc. As an IoT chipless RFID also provides cost-effective sensing applications in mining, healthcare, waste management as well as food supply chains.


Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Sep 09, 2023
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