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InstantHMI - Barcode/RFID Interface



Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is one of the automatic identification or auto ID systems like bar codes, smart cards, voice recognition etc., used to help machines identify objects. This technology is often coupled with automatic data capture systems to identify objects and capture information and transfer them into computer without data entry. Naturally, the aim of these systems is to increase efficiency and reduce data entry.

An RFID tag consists of a microchip (to store data) and an antenna (to emit/receive RF signals) enclosed by protective packaging. Active tags are powered by internal battery and information written to them can be modified. Passive tags receive operating power from the radio waves emitted by the reader.


An RFID reader consists of a transceiver, decoder, and antenna. The transceiver emits a RF signal at a specified frequency and receives response signals from RFID tags for decoding. Standard frequency bands are low (100-500 kHz), Medium (10-15 MHz) and High (850-950 MHz, 2.4-5.8 GHz).

When the object containing RFID tag comes within the range of radio signals emitted by the reader, the tag is activated and it starts sending the information stored in it in the form of radio signals.

The reader captures the radio signals, decodes it to a byte stream, and sends the information for further processing to the host system connected to it.

Principal areas of applications for RFID include: Transportation and logistics, Manufacturing and processing, and Security. Example applications: Tool Usage in numerically controlled machines, Identification of product variants and process control in manufacturing systems.

No standardization exists for RFID. RFID Readers and tags are fairly expensive but the mandate by US Department of Defense and major department stores is providing the impetus for driving the tag costs down. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is working on standards for tracking goods in the supply chain. Socket Communications, Symbol and Intermec are working hard to provide support and solutions for RFID on Windows CE devices. Socket has announced software development kits to assist in integration of RFID technology in mobile applications on Pocket PC. Symbol Technologies is an active member of EPCglobal, a non-profit organization for developing RFID standards.


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