Embedded RFID Solutions: Challenges for Product Design and Development

Embedded RFID Solutions: Challenges for Product Design and Development

Álvaro M. Sampaio (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal & University of Minho, Portugal), António J. Pontes (University of Minho, Portugal) and Ricardo Simões (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal & University of Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1945-6.ch100
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Full traceability of products is extremely difficult, although it has been sought after for as long as production, distribution and sales chains exist. Electronic traceability methods, such as RFID technology, have been proposed as a possible solution to this problem. In the specific case of RFID, the number of applications that promote innovative solutions in retail and other areas has been continuous growing. However, RFID tags are mostly placed externally on a surface of products or their packages. This is appropriate for logistics, but not for other applications, such as those involving user interaction. In those, not only is the placement of the RFID tag more complex, but it is also necessary that the tag is not visible or not directly accessible, to prevent accidental damage and intentional abuse. This certainly imposes challenges to manufacturing, but mainly creates new challenges to the development of new products and re-design of existing ones. This chapter presents some insights and what we consider to be the two main approaches to incorporating RFID technology into consumer products.
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Rfid Technology Overview

RFID is a wireless tracking technology that allows a reader to activate a transponder on a radio frequency tag attached to, or embedded in, an item, allowing the reader to remotely read and/or write data to the RFID tag (Das, 2009). Essentially, an RFID system comprises an RFID tag, also called transponder, a reader, also called transceiver, and the supporting IT infrastructure. An RFID tag embodies a built-in antenna connected to an electronic microchip. These tags carry on a unique identifier that relates the tag with the precise tagged object, allowing unique product identification. A tag receives and retransmits signals on a set of predetermined frequencies, in other words, in response, a tag transmits a predetermined message to a predefined received signal.

RFID tags can be read-only or read-write. A read-only tag includes a programmed identification code, recorded at the time of manufacture or when the tag is allocated to an object. Once programmed, the data cannot be modified but may be read multiple times. Read-write tags can have their memory changed, or written many times; in this way, they offer greater functionality. RFID tags can be categorized in three general varieties: passive, semi-passive and active tags (Table 1).

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