RFID Tags and Transponders: The New Kid on the Block

RFID Tags and Transponders: The New Kid on the Block

Katina Michael (University of Wollongong, Australia) and M.G. Michael (University of Wollongong, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-795-9.ch009
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Abstract

Radio frequency identification (RFID) in the form of tags or transponders is a means of auto-ID that can be used for tracking and monitoring objects, both living and non-living. One of the first applications of RFID was in the 1940s within the US Defense Force (Hodges & McFarlane, 2004, p. 59). Transponders were used to differentiate between friendly and enemy aircraft (Ollivier, 1995, p. 234; Scharfeld (1998, p. 9). Since that time, transponders continued mainly to be used by the aerospace industry (or in other niche applications) until the late 1980s when the Dutch government voiced their requirement for a livestock tracking system. The commercial direction of RFID changed at this time and the uses for RFID grew manifold as manufacturers realized the enormous potential of the technology.
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Radio-Frequency Identification Technology

Historical Overview

Radio frequency identification (RFID) in the form of tags or transponders is a means of auto-ID that can be used for tracking and monitoring objects, both living and non-living. One of the first applications of RFID was in the 1940s within the US Defense Force (Hodges & McFarlane, 2004, p. 59). Transponders were used to differentiate between friendly and enemy aircraft (Ollivier, 1995, p. 234; Scharfeld (1998, p. 9). Since that time, transponders continued mainly to be used by the aerospace industry (or in other niche applications) until the late 1980s when the Dutch government voiced their requirement for a livestock tracking system. The commercial direction of RFID changed at this time and the uses for RFID grew manifold as manufacturers realized the enormous potential of the technology.

Before RFID, processes requiring the check-in and distribution of items were mostly done manually. Gerdeman (1995, p. 3) highlights this by the following real-life example: “[e]ighty thousand times a day, a long shoreman takes a dull pencil and writes on a soggy piece of paper the ID of a container to be key entered later… This process is fraught with opportunity for error.” Bar code systems in the 1970s helped to alleviate some of the manual processing, but it was not until RFID became more widespread in the late 1990s that even greater increases in productivity were experienced. RFID was even more effective than bar code because it did not require items that were being checked to be in a stationary state or in a particular set orientation. As Finkenzeller (2001, p. 1) rightly underlines, “[t]he omnipresent barcode labels that triggered a revolution in identification systems some considerable time ago, are being found to be inadequate in an increasing number of cases. Barcodes may be extremely cheap, but their stumbling block is their low storage capacity and the fact that they cannot be reprogrammed”. RFID limits the amount of human intervention required to a minimum, and in some cases eliminates it altogether (Hind, 1994, p. 215).

The fundamental electromagnetic principles that make RFID possible were discovered by Michael Faraday, Nikola Tesla and Heinrich R. Hertz prior to 1900. “From them we know that when a group of electrons or current flows through a conductor, a magnetic field is formed surrounding the conductor. The field strength diminishes as the distance from the wire increases. We also know that when there is a relative motion between a conductor and a magnetic field a current is induced in that conductor. These two basic phenomena are used in all low frequency RFID systems on the market today” (Ames, 1990, p. 3-2). Finkenzeller (2001, pp. 25-110) provides a detailed explanation of fundamental RF operating and physical principles. Ames (1990, p. 3-3) points out that RFID works differently to normal radio transmission. RFID uses the near field effect rather than plane wave transmission. This is why distance plays such an important role in RFID. The shorter the range between the reader and the RF device the greater the precision for identification. The two most common RFID devices today are tags and transponders but since 1973 (Ames, 1990, p. 5-2) other designs have included contactless smart cards, wedges (plastic housing), disks and coins, glass transponders (that look like tubes), keys and key fobs, tool and gas bottle identification transponders, even clocks (Finkenzeller, 2001, pp. 13-20). The size and shapes of tags and transponders vary. Some more common shapes include: glass cylinders typically used for animal tracking (the size of a grain of rice), wedges for insertion into cars, circular pills, ISO cards with or without magnetic stripes, polystyrene and epoxy discs, bare tags ready for integration into other packaging (ID Systems, 1997, p. 4). RFID espouses different principles to smart cards but the two are closely related according to Finkenzeller (2001, p. 6). RFID systems can take advantage of contactless smart cards transmitting information by the use of radio waves.

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Dedication
Table of Contents
Foreword
Elaine Lawrence
Acknowledgment
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
Chapter 1
Introduction  (pages 1-24)
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
This study is concerned with the automatic identification (auto-ID) industry which first came to prominence in the early 1970s. Auto-ID belongs to... Sample PDF
Introduction
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Chapter 2
Innovation Studies  (pages 25-42)
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
This chapter will explore literature in the field of innovation in order to establish a conceptual framework for the auto-ID trajectory research.... Sample PDF
Innovation Studies
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Chapter 3
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
This chapter takes the reader through a historical tour of identification techniques from ancient times to the present. The histories shed light on... Sample PDF
Historical Background: From Manual Identification to Auto-ID
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Chapter 4
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
National security measures can be defined as those technical and non-technical measures that have been initiated as a means to curb breaches in... Sample PDF
Globalization and the Changing Face of IDentification
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Chapter 5
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
Of all the auto-ID technologies in the global market today, barcode is the most widely used. In 1994, Cohen (p. 55) wrote “...barcode technology is... Sample PDF
Barcode: The Pioneer Auto-ID Technology
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Chapter 6
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
Almost simultaneously that the retail industry underwent revolutionary changes with the introduction of bar code, the financial industry adopted... Sample PDF
Magnetic-Stripe Cards: The Consolidating Force
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Chapter 7
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
The history of the smart card begins as far back as 1968. By that time magnetic-stripe cards while not widespread, had been introduced into the... Sample PDF
Smart Cards: The Next Generation
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Chapter 8
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
Biometrics is not only considered a more secure way to identify an individual but also a more convenient technique whereby the individual does not... Sample PDF
Biometrics: In Search of a Foolproof Solution
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Chapter 9
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
Radio frequency identification (RFID) in the form of tags or transponders is a means of auto-ID that can be used for tracking and monitoring... Sample PDF
RFID Tags and Transponders: The New Kid on the Block
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Chapter 10
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
This chapter analyses the findings from the case studies on bar codes, magnetic-stripe cards, smart cards, biometrics and RFID tags and... Sample PDF
The Auto-ID Technology System
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Chapter 11
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
This chapter is about geographic information systems (GIS) and its relevance to the location-based services industry. One might initially ask how... Sample PDF
Geographic Information Systems & Location-Based Services
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Chapter 12
The Auto-ID Trajectory  (pages 329-363)
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
This chapter considers the automatic identification (auto-ID) trajectory within the context of converging disciplines to predict the realm of likely... Sample PDF
The Auto-ID Trajectory
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Chapter 13
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
The number of automatic identification (auto-ID) technologies being utilized in eBusiness applications is growing rapidly. With an increasing trend... Sample PDF
The Socio-Ethical Implications of Automatic Identification and Location Services
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Chapter 14
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
When Jacques Ellul (1964, p. 432) predicted the use of “electronic banks” in his book, The Technological Society, he was not referring to the... Sample PDF
The Rise of the Electrophorus
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Chapter 15
Uberveillance  (pages 464-484)
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
Uberveillance, also überveillance, is an above and beyond, an exaggerated, an almost omnipresent 24/7 electronic surveillance. It is a surveillance... Sample PDF
Uberveillance
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Chapter 16
Conclusion  (pages 485-496)
Katina Michael, M.G. Michael
This chapter is dedicated to identifying the main outcomes of the study and reflections on the future directions of the technologies that were under... Sample PDF
Conclusion
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Acronyms and Abbreviations
About the Contributors