See also: Privacy | Identification

Acronym: Radio Frequency Identification

RFID is a technology which uses radio frequencies for identification of entities (personae, goods, anything). It was originally meant as a replacement for barcodes. However, the technology is much more powerful because of major differences between a RFID and a barcode. In the article hereunder, we assume RFID is used in combination with goods; not personae. However, one should not assume the latter is not applicable.

An average RFID-tag consists of 2 parts: a microchip and a very small antenna. These chips operate at varying frequencies and can store up to 512 bits of information. The chip can save data and contains a unique code, which makes every RFID-tag unique. The antenna makes sure that the tag is able to send the data to the read-machine.

The size of a RFID-tag is dependant on the antenna and varies in practice to a few centimeters to the size of one rice grain. Even smaller RFID chips scaled down to a tiny 0.3 millimetres square that are very difficult to discover have been developed by Hitachi.

Lukas Grunwald, an RFID expert, has developed a piece of software called RFDump that can read and modify the metadata contained in a RFID tag.


Notable differences between RFID and barcode:

  • Barcode uses the same information in similar goods; RFID allows one to give a unique identification code to an individual good.
  • Barcodes have to be scanned individually; RFID-tags can be scanned from a distance, and in higher numbers at once.
  • Barcodes are practically not invisible; RFID can be invisible to the eye because of their small size. This allow for their existence to remain unknown.
  • Tampering of barcodes is noticeable while changes to a RFID tag are not visible.

This article tries to inform the reader about some overal basics of RFID and link to several sources. The authors of this article highly encourage readers to read other sources, which go more in-depth, as a suppliment to this article.


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