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(Seminar Report)
Submitted By:
Saurabh Gupta
UE 6557
ECE 7th Semester
List of Images
Fig. 1: An RFID System
Fig. 2: An RFID Tag
Fig. 3: An RFID Tag
Fig. 4: An Active Tag
Fig. 5: A Passive Tag
Fig. 6: The EPC Code
Fig. 7: RFID Interrogators
Fig. 8: The Working of an RFID System
Fig. 9: Tag on a Cloth
Fig. 10: Tag used for Animal Identification
Fig. 11: Tag used as a Human Implant
Fig. 12: Protest against RFID

List of Tables
Table 1: Active Tag vs. Passive Tag
Table 2: RFID vs. Bar Code
List of Abbreviations
RFID Radio Frequency Identification
CONUS Continental United States
RF Radio Frequency
DSRC Dedicated Short Range Communication
IRID Infra Red Frequency Identification
EPC Electronic Product Code
LFID Low Frequency Identification
HFID High Frequency Identification
UHFID Ultra High Frequency Identification
IC Integrated Circuits
CASPIAN Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy
Invasion and Numbering
ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization
BEL Bharat Electronics Limited
IEEE Institute of Electrical & Electronics
Introduction to RFID…………………………………………………………..II
Components of RFID Technology………………………………..……III
RFID Tags……………………………………………………………………………….IV
Types of RFID Tags…………………………………………………………….…V
The EPC Code………………………………………………………………………..VII
Antenna Types……………………………………………………………………..…IX
How Does It Work? ……………………………………………………………..XI
RFID vs. Bar Code…………………………………………………………….XIII
Issues in Implementation of RFID Technology………XVIII
Initiatives in India on RFID………………………………………..……XX
Future Scope……………………………………………………………………..XXI
In 1946 Léon Theremin invented an espionage tool for the Soviet Union
which retransmitted incident radio waves with audio information. Even
though this device was a covert listening device, not an identification
tag, it is considered to be a predecessor of RFID technology.

RFID’s earliest application was during World War II, where United
Kingdom used RFID devices to distinguish returning English airplanes
from inbound German ones. RADAR was only able to signal the
presence of a plane, not the kind of plane it was. Transponders are still
used by most powered aircraft to this day.

Another early work exploring RFID is the landmark 1948 paper by

Harry Stockman, titled "Communication by Means of Reflected Power"
(Proceedings of the IRE, pp 1196–1204, October 1948).

Mario Cardullo's U.S. Patent 3,713,148 in 1973 was the first true
ancestor of modern RFID; a passive radio transponder with memory.
The initial device was passive, powered by the interrogating signal, and
was demonstrated in 1971 to the New York Port.

A very early demonstration of reflected power RFID Tags, both

passive and active, was performed by Steven Depp, Alfred Koelle, and
Robert Freyman at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1973. The
portable system operated at 915 MHz and used 12-bit Tags. This
technique is used by the majority of today's UHFID and microwave
RFID Tags.

The largest deployment of RFID is the US Department of Defense use

of Savi Active Tags on every one of its more than a million shipping
containers that travel outside of the Continental United States

Introduction to RFID
RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is a technology that
incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling
in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic
spectrum to uniquely identify an object, animal, or a person. It is
an automatic identification method, relying on storing and
remotely retrieving data whenever required using devices called
RFID Tags or transponders.
It is also called Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC).

Fig. 1: An RFID System

IRID technology is almost similar to RFID, the main difference
being the frequency of operation. In Electromagnetic spectrum,
IR frequencies are far higher than freq used for RFID. At IR,
path losses are very high, & they can’t penetrate into solid
objects, such as boxes to read the tags. Therefore, IRID is more
commonly used in imaging applications such as night vision &
motion detection.

Components of RFID
Tags (Chip + Antenna):
An RFID Tag is an object that can be stuck on or incorporated into a
product, animal or a person for the purpose of identification using
radio waves.

Interrogators (Antenna + Reader):

Interrogators are used to read the Tags & in certain cases even write
on them.

Middleware is the needed interface between the existing company
databases & information management software. Middleware provides a
range of functions:

• Data Filtering
• System Monitoring
• Multiple Reader Co-ordination

Business Application Software:

It is used to manage & process the collected data.

An RFID Tag is a transponder which
receives a radio signal and in response to
it, sends out a radio signal. Tag contains an
antenna, and a small chip that stores a
small amount of data. Tag memory can be
factory or field programmed, partition
able, and optionally permanently locked.

Fig. 2: An RFID Tag

To communicate, Tags respond to queries generating signals that must

not create interference with the readers, as arriving signals can be
very weak and must be differentiated. Besides backscattering, load
modulation techniques can be used to manipulate the reader's field.
Typically, backscatter is used in the far field, whereas load modulation
applies in the near field, within a few wavelengths from the reader.

Tags can be attached to

almost anything:
• pallets or cases of
• vehicles
• company assets or
• items such as apparel,
luggage, laundry
• people, livestock, or pets
• high value electronics
such as computers, TVs,
Fig. 3: An RFID Tag

Types of RFID Tags
RFID Tags are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Animal
tracking Tags, inserted beneath the skin, can be as small as a pencil
lead in diameter and one-half inch in length. Tags can be screw-shaped
to identify trees or wooden items, or credit-card shaped for use in
access applications. The anti-theft hard plastic Tags attached to
merchandise in stores are RFID Tags. In addition, heavy-duty 5X4X2-
inch rectangular transponders used to track intermodal containers or
heavy machinery, trucks, and railroad cars for maintenance and
tracking applications are RFID Tags.

There are two basic types of RFID Tags:

1. Active Tags
2. Passive Tags

Active Tags
Active RFID Tags are powered by an internal battery and are typically
read/write, i.e., Tag data can be rewritten and/or modified. An Active
Tag's memory size varies according to application requirements; some
systems operate with up to 1MB of memory. In a typical read/write
RFID work-in-process system, a Tag might give a machine a set of
instructions, and the machine would then report its performance to
the Tag. This encoded data would then become part of the tagged
part's history. The battery-supplied power of an Active Tag generally
gives it a longer read range. The trade off is greater size, greater
cost, and a limited operational life (which may yield a maximum of 10
years, depending upon operating temperatures and battery type).

Passive Tags
Passive RFID Tags operate without a separate external power source
and obtain operating power generated from the reader. Passive Tags
are consequently much lighter than
Active Tags, less expensive, and offer
a virtually unlimited operational
lifetime. The trade off is that they
have shorter read ranges than Active
Tags and require a higher-powered
reader. Read-only Tags are typically
passive and are programmed with a
unique set of data (usually 32 to 128
bits) that cannot be modified. Read-
only Tags most often operate as a license plate into a database, in the
same way as linear barcodes reference a database containing
modifiable product-specific information.

Active Tag Passive Tag

Tag Power Internal to Tag Energy transferred
using RF from reader
Tag Battery Yes No

Required signal Very Low Very High

strength to Tag
Range Up to 100m Up to 3-5m, usually
Multi-Tag 1000’s of Tags Few hundred within 3m
recognized – up to of reader
reading 100mph
Data Storage Up to 128 Kb or read/ 128 bytes of
write & search read/write
Table 1: Active Tag vs. Passive Tag

The EPC Code
The objective of the Electronic Product Code (EPC) is to provide
unique identification of physical objects.
The EPC will be used to address and access individual objects from the
computer network, much as the Internet Protocol (IP) Address allows
computers to identify, organize and communicate with one another.

Fig. 6: The EPC Code

Due to the lack of global standards, there was no standard range of

the EPC Code. It could range fro a mere 36 bits to 128 bits. But
recently a globally standardized standard, named as the EPC Global,
has been devised which suggests the standard length of EPC Code of
96 bits.

E.G. 613.23000.123456.123456789 (96 bits)

• Header – defines data type (8 bits)

• EPC Manager – describes originator of EPC (Product

(34 bits)

• Object Class - Could describe the product type (20 Bits)

• Serial Number – Unique ID for that product item (34 Bits)

An RFID Interrogator (or Reader) is a device that is used to
interrogate an RFID Tag. The reader has an antenna that emits radio
waves; the Tag responds by sending back its data

The reader has two basic components:

• A scanning antenna
• A transceiver with a decoder to interpret the data

Readers can be at a fixed point such as:

• Entrance/exit
• Point of sale
• Warehouse

Readers can also be mobile, tethered, hand-held, or wireless.

Fig. 7: RFID Interrogators

Antenna Types
The Antennas used for an RFID Tag are affected by the intended
application and the frequency of operation.

Low-frequency is 30–300 kHz. LFID or LowFID Passive Tags are

normally inductively coupled, and because the voltage induced is
proportional to frequency, many coil turns are needed to produce
enough voltage to operate an integrated circuit. Compact LowFID
Tags, like glass-encapsulated Tags used in animal and human
identification, use a multilayer coil (3 layers of 100–150 turns each)
wrapped around a ferrite core.

High frequency is 3-30 MHz. At 13.56 MHz, a HFID or HighFID Tag,

using a planar spiral with 5–7 turns over a credit-card-sized form
factor can be used to provide ranges of tens of centimeters. These
coils are less costly to produce than LF coils, since they can be made
using lithographic techniques rather than by wire winding, but two
metal layers and an insulator layer are needed to allow for the
crossover connection from the outermost layer to the inside of the
spiral where the integrated circuit and resonance capacitor are

Ultrahigh-frequency or UHF is 300 MHz-3 GHz. UHFID and microwave

Passive Tags are usually radiatively-coupled to the reader antenna and
can employ conventional dipole-like antennas. Only one metal layer is
required, reducing cost of manufacturing.

Half-wave dipoles (16 cm at 900 MHz) are too big for many
applications; for example, Tags embedded in labels must be less than
10 cm (4 inches) in extent. To reduce the length of the antenna,
antennas can be bent or meandered, and capacitive tip-loading or
bowtie-like broadband structures are also used.

Patch antennas are used to provide service in close proximity to metal
surfaces, but a structure with good bandwidth is 3–6 mm thick, and
the need to provide a ground layer and ground connection increases
cost relative to simpler single-layer structures.

HFID and UHFID Tag antennas are usually fabricated from copper or
aluminum. Conductive inks have seen some use in Tag antennas but have
encountered problems with IC adhesion and environmental stability.

How Does It Work?

Fig. 8: The Working of an RFID System

Sequence of Communication
• Host Manages Reader(s) and Issues Commands.
• Reader and Tag communicate via RF signal.
• Carrier signal generated by the reader (upon request from the
host application).
• Carrier signal sent out through the antennas.
• Carrier signal hits Tag(s).
• Tag receives and modifies carrier signal & sends back a
modulated signal or reflects back the incoming signal depending
upon the type of the Tag.
• Antennas receive the modulated signal & send them to the
• Reader decodes the data & results are returned to the host

• The read-only Tag code data is 100% secure and can not be
changed or duplicated.
• Very robust Tags that can stand extreme conditions and
• Tags are available in a great range of types, sizes and materials
• No need for physical contact between the data carrier and the
communication device.
• The Tags can be used repeatedly
• Relatively low maintenance cost
• No line-of-sight necessary to read/write data. This makes it
possible to use Tags in harsh environments and in closed
containers/structures. When using bar codes- scanners have to
have line of sight to read them
• An RFID Tag could identify the item (not just its manufacturer
and category). Bar codes only provide a manufacturer and
product type. They don’t identify unique items
• Extremely low error rate
• RFID technology is a labor-saving technology. This translates to
cost savings. Using bar code technology costs, on average, 7
cents in human labor to scan a bar code. In addition, labor is
required to put each label correctly on each plastic crate holder
or panel. Add a cost for label changes and replacements for "non
readable" codes. And add another for administrative costs for
labels that aren't read properly, which causes inventory errors
and non-compliant returns and penalties

RFID vs. Bar Code
Bar Code Technology is the nearest competitor to the RFID Systems.
Therefore, here’s an analysis of the two systems in a tabular form:

RFID Bar Code

Forging is difficult Forging is easy
Scanner not required. No need to Scanner needs to see the bar code
bring the Tag near the reader to read it
RFID is comparatively fast

Can read multiple Tags Can read only one Tag at a time

Relatively expensive as compared

to Bar Codes
(Reader 1000$, Tag 20 cents a
Can be reusable within factory Cannot be reused

Table 2: RFID vs. Bar Code

RFID Tags are being used in passports issued by many countries,
including Malaysia, New Zealand, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway,
Ireland, Japan, Pakistan, Germany, Portugal, Poland, The United
Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
Standards for RFID passports are determined by the International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and are contained in ICAO
Document 9303, Part 1, Volumes 1 and 2 (6th edition, 2006). ICAO
refers to the ISO 14443 RFID chips in e-passports as "contactless
integrated circuits". ICAO standards provide for e-passports to be
identifiable by a standard e-passport logo on the front cover.

Product Tracking
High-frequency RFID or HFID/HighFID
Tags are used in library book or
bookstore tracking, jewelry tracking,
pallet tracking, building access control,
airline baggage tracking, and apparel and
pharmaceutical items tracking. High-
frequency Tags are widely used in
identification badges, replacing earlier
magnetic stripe cards. These badges
need only be held within a certain
distance of the reader to authenticate
the holder. The American Express Blue
credit card now includes a HighFID Tag.
In Feb 2008, Emirates airline started a
trial of RFID baggage tracing at London
and Dubai airports. Fig. 9: Tag on a Cloth

Transportation & Logistics
Logistics & Transportation is a major area of implementation for RFID
technology. For example, Yard Management, Shipping & Freight and
Distribution Centers are some areas where RFID tracking technology
is used. Transportation companies around the world value RFID
technology due to its impact on the business value and efficiency.

Animal Identification
Implantable RFID Tags or transponders can be
used for animal identification. The transponders
are more well-known as Passive RFID technology,
or simply "Chips" on animals.

Inventory Systems
An advanced automatic identification technology such as the Auto-ID
system based on the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology
has significant value for inventory systems. Notably, the technology
provides an accurate knowledge of the current inventory. In an
academic study performed at Wal-Mart, RFID reduced Out-of-Stocks
by 30 percent for products selling between 0.1 and 15 units a day.
Other benefits of using RFID include the reduction of labor costs, the
simplification of business processes, and the reduction of inventory

Among the many uses of RFID technologies is its deployment in
libraries. This technology has slowly begun to replace the traditional
barcodes on library items (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.). The RFID Tag can
contain identifying information, such as a book's title or material type,
without having to be pointed to a separate database (but this is rare in
North America). The information is read by an RFID reader, which
replaces the standard barcode reader commonly found at a library's
circulation desk. The RFID Tag found on library materials typically
measures 50 mm X 50 mm in North America and 50 mm x 75 mm in

Europe. It may replace or be added to the barcode, offering a
different means of inventory management by the staff and self
service by the borrowers. It can also act as a security device, taking
the place of the more traditional electromagnetic security strip. And
not only the books, but also the membership cards could be fitted with
an RFID Tag.

Human Implants
Implantable RFID chips designed
for animal tagging are now being
used in humans. An early experiment
with RFID implants was conducted
by British professor of cybernetics
Kevin Warwick, who implanted a chip
in his arm in 1998. Night clubs in
Barcelona, Spain and in Rotterdam,
The Netherlands, use an implantable
chip to identify their VIP customers, who in turn use it to pay for

Schools & Universities

School authorities in the Japanese city of Osaka are now chipping
children's clothing, back packs, and student IDs in a primary school. A
school in Doncaster, England is piloting a monitoring system designed
to keep tabs on pupils by tracking radio chips in their uniforms. St
Charles Sixth Form College in West London, England, started
September, 2008, is using an RFID card system to check in and out of
the main gate, to both track attendance and prevent unauthorized

RFID technologies are now also implemented in end-user applications in
museums. An example is the custom-designed application "eXsport" at
the Exploratorium, a science museum in San Francisco, California. A

visitor entering the museum receives an RF Tag that can be carried on
a card or necklace. The eXspot system enables the visitor to receive
information about the exhibit and take photos to be collected at the
giftshop. Later they can visit their personal Web page on which
specific information such as visit dates, the visited exhibits and the
taken photographs can be viewed.

Social Retailing
When customers enter a dressing room, the mirror reflects their
image and also images of the apparel item being worn by celebrities on
an interactive display. A webcam also projects an image of the
consumer wearing the item on the website for everyone to see. This
creates an interaction between the consumers inside the store and
their social network outside the store. The technology in this system
is an RFID interrogator antenna in the dressing room and Electronic
Product Code RFID Tags on the apparel item.

Lap Scoring
Passive and Active RFID systems are used in off-road events such as
Enduro and Hare and Hounds racing. Riders have a transponder on
their person, normally on their arm. When they complete a lap they
swipe or touch the receiver which is connected to a computer and log
their lap time. The Casimo Group Ltd sells such a system.

Issues in Implementation of
RFID Technology
Global Standardization
The frequencies used for RFID in the USA are currently incompatible
with those of Europe or Japan. Furthermore, no emerging standard has
yet become as universal as the barcode.

Security Concerns
A primary RFID security concern is the illicit
tracking of RFID Tags. Tags which are world-
readable pose a risk to both personal location
privacy and corporate/military security. Such
concerns have been raised with respect to the
United States Department of Defense's recent
adoption of RFID Tags for supply chain
management. More generally, privacy organizations
have expressed concerns in the context of ongoing
efforts to embed electronic product code (EPC)
RFID Tags in consumer products.

The use of RFID technology has engendered considerable controversy
and even product boycotts by consumer privacy advocates. Katherine
Albrecht and Liz McIntyre, co-founders of CASPIAN (Consumers
Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering),are two
prominent critics of the technology who refer to RFID Tags as
"spychips". The two main privacy concerns regarding RFID are:
• Since the owner of an item will not necessarily be aware of
the presence of an RFID Tag and the Tag can be read at a
distance without the knowledge of the individual, it becomes

possible to gather sensitive data about an individual without
• If a tagged item is paid for by credit card or in conjunction
with use of a loyalty card, then it would be possible to
indirectly deduce the identity of the purchaser by reading
the globally unique ID of that item (contained in the RFID

Most concerns revolve around the fact that RFID Tags affixed to
products remain functional even after the products have been
purchased and taken home and thus can be used for surveillance and
other purposes unrelated to their supply chain inventory functions.

Human Implantation
The Food and Drug Administration in the US has approved the use of
RFID chips in humans. Some business establishments have also started
to chip customers, such as the
Baja Beach nightclub in
Barcelona. This has provoked
concerns into privacy of
individuals as they can potentially
be tracked wherever they go by
an identifier unique to them.
There are concerns this could
lead to abuse by an authoritarian
government or lead to removal of
On July 22, 2006, Reuters
reported that two hackers,
Newitz and Westhues, at a
conference in New York City
showed that they could clone the RFID signal from a human implanted
RFID chip, showing that the chip is not hack-proof as was previously

Initiatives in India on RFID
• Wipro Technologies: Member of the Electronic Product
Code (EPC)
1. Setting up a lab to study RFID
2. Working on pilot projects

• Infosys Technologies: RFID consulting on logistics player in

the RFID space.

• TCS: Tied up with Hyderabad University to produce RFID tagged

mark sheets & degrees to deter use of fake degree.

• Patni Computer Systems Lab: Implemented Animal

Tracking System.

• Intellicon: Pilot project for BEL Bangalore, Tags installed on

employee buses. Buses inside the BEL campus were tracked with the
aim of gauging employee punctuality.

• Mumbai: The busiest Suburban Rail Transport in the world,

which transports 3.5 million commuters per day, has implemented
the use of RFID ticket cards.

• Delhi Metro: The underground subway or metro system

implements RFID ticket coins.

Future Scope
The world will be very different once
readers and RFID Tags are everywhere.
In an RFID-enhanced future, the
benefits would accrue not just to
businesses, but also to consumers.

Once various limitations like lack of a

global standard, security concerns, the
cost factor, etc. are overcome and this
technology is fully implemented, it can
transform the way we live our lives. It
has the potential of revolutionizing the
way we travel, the way we open the
locks of our homes, the way we
purchase goods, the way we do
business and much more.

• IEEE Spectrum Magazine
• http://www.wikipedia.org
• http://www.rfidjournal.com
• http://www.howstuffworks.com