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What is rfid? RFID's Common Problems and Application

What is rfid?
RFID stands for Radio-Frequency IDentification. The acronym refers to small electronic devices that consist of a small chip and an antenna. The chip typically is capable of carrying 2,000 bytes of data or less.

The RFID device serves the same purpose as a bar code or a magnetic strip on the back of a credit card or ATM card; it provides a unique identifier for that object. And, just as a bar code or magnetic strip must be scanned to get the information, the RFID device must be scanned to retrieve the identifying information.

RFID's Common Problems
Some common problems with RFID are reader collision and tag collision. Reader collision occurs when the signals from two or more readers overlap. The tag is unable to respond to simultaneous queries. Systems must be carefully set up to avoid this problem. Tag collision occurs when many tags are present in a small area; but since the read time is very fast, it is easier for vendors to develop systems that ensure that tags respond one at a time.

What can RFID be used for?

RFID tags come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes; they may be encased in a variety of materials:
* Animal tracking tags, inserted beneath the skin, can be rice-sized.
* Tags can be screw-shaped to identify trees or wooden items.
* Credit-card shaped for use in access applications.
* The anti-theft hard plastic tags attached to merchandise in stores are also RFID tags.
* Heavy-duty 120 by 100 by 50 millimeter rectangular transponders are used to track shipping containers, or heavy machinery, trucks, and railroad cars.

RFID devices have been used for years to identify dogs, for a means of permanent identification. Dog owners had long used tattoos, permanent ink markings, typically on the ears. However, these can fade with age and it may be difficult to get the animal to sit still while you examine him for markings.

Many musical instruments are stolen every year. For example, custom-built or vintage guitars are worth as much as $50,000 each. Snagg, a California company specializing in RFID microchips for instruments, has embedded tiny chips in 30,000 Fender guitars already. The database of RFID chip IDs is made available to law enforcement officials, dealers, repair shops and luthiers.


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