Radio Frequency Identification and Its Application in E-Commerce

Radio Frequency Identification and Its Application in E-Commerce

Witold Bahr (Aston University, UK) and Brian Price (Aston University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch130
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Radio Frequency Identification (Rfid)

RFID is an abbreviation for Radio Frequency Identification and as the name implies it is a technology that transmits coded information sets through radio waves. Information is transmitted between RFID tags (also called transponders) and readers (or interrogators) (Hunt et al., 2007). The information flow in a basic RFID system is presented in Figure 1 (based on Dua and Meyers, 2007). The tag receives a radio signal from the reader. The tag is activated and sends back the data to the reader. The collected information is passed on to RFID middleware for processing, for use in business applications. Each tag consists of unique identification information about the item to which it is attached, e.g. item ID, date of production, shipping detail, expiry date, etc. depending on the intended uses (Dua and Meyers, 2007).

Figure 1.

Basic components of RFID system and information flow

An RFID system is defined as an “integrated collection of components that implement an RFID solution” (Lahiri, 2005, p. 7) and is also referenced as RFID infrastructure (Banks, 2007). There is a difference of opinion among authors regarding what constitutes the RFID system. Five different propositions of what constitutes the RFID system are presented in Figure 2. It can be deducted from Figure 2 that an RFID system in its most basic form consists of a tag (transponder) and a reader (interrogator), which is the view put forward by Finkenzeller (2010).

Figure 2.

Five views on elements of RFID system

Key Terms in this Chapter

RFID: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is one of the AIDC technologies. RFID uses electromagnetic fields to transfer data between tags and readers for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects.

Tag: RFID tag can store and transmit data to a reader in a contactless manner using radio waves. Tag consists of: antenna (coupling element), integrated circuit (chip), printed circuit board/substrate (housing). There are active and passive RFID tags.

Barcode: A machine-readable printed symbols representing textual/numerical information. Barcodes are the most popular AIDC technology and are typically used for stock control.

Active Tag: Active tag is the RFID tag with an onboard power supply (i.e. battery) and may also include elements for performing specialised tasks (i.e. sensory elements for temperature, humidity, positioning system, etc.). Use of battery in active tag results in longer reading range and increased readability in harsh environments.

AIDC: Automatic Identification and Data Capture technologies, such as: barcode system, biometric, optical character recognition (OCR), smart cards, and RFID.

Passive Tag: Passive tag is the RFID tag powered by the means of reflected energy from the reader. Passive tag has a simple construction and their price is significantly cheaper than active tags.

Reader: An RFID reader, also known as an interrogator, receives information from the tag and provides it to the enterprise system. Reader uses one or more antennas to capture information from the tag.

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