Auto-ID Education

What is Auto-ID?

Automatic identification and data capture refers to the methods of automatically identifying objects, collecting data about them, and entering that data directly into computer systems without human involvement. Technologies typically considered as part of auto-identification include barcodes, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), biometrics, magnetic stripes, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), smart cards, and voice recognition. Auto-identification is also commonly referred to as “Automatic Identification,” “Auto-ID,” and “Automatic Data Capture.”

RFID technology acts as a base in automated data collection, identification and analysis systems worldwide. These automated wireless auto-ID systems are effective in manufacturing environments where barcode labels could not survive.

RFID come in two forms: active or passive. Both types are very different from each other in many ways.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a term used to describe any identification device that can be sensed at a distance with few problems of obstruction or mis-orientation. The devices are often referred to ‘RFID tags’ or ‘smart labels’.

What is RFID?

Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects. There are several methods of identification, but the most common is to store a serial number that identifies a person or object, and perhaps other information, on a microchip that is attached to an antenna (the chip and the antenna together are called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag).

The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. The reader converts the radio waves reflected back from the RFID tag into digital information that can then be passed on to computers that can make use of it.

Active RFID Auto-IDRFID Active Tags

Active RFID tags obtain their power via an internal battery. Their power source is considered to be continuous. They can be accessed up to a range of 100 meters; however, their required signal strength is very low. Active tags can store 128 kb of data and have the ability to also read/write data. Multi-tag reading is available with active tags. Thousands of tags can be recognized at a time.

Passive RFID Auto-IDRFID Passive Tags

Passive RFID tags are unlike Active tags in many ways. They do not have an internal battery source, so they obtain their power via the transfer of energy from radio frequencies that emit from a reader. Therefore, passive tags have to be in range of a reader (also known as ‘field reader’) in order to receive power.

Due to the “land-line” type of service power, a passive tag’s required signal strength is very high. The read  range for passive tags is between 3-5 meters. Passive tags can only store 128 bytes of read/write data. Like active tags, passive tags also have a multi-tag capability. Several hundred tags can be read at once; however, they must all be within 3 meters of the reader to operate.

barcode Auto-IDBarcodes

A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data relating to the object to which it is attached. Originally barcodes systematically represented data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or one-dimensional (1D). Later they evolved into rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns in two dimensions (2D). Although 2D systems use a variety of symbols, they are generally referred to as barcodes as well. Barcodes originally were scanned by special optical scanners called barcode readers. Later, scanners and interpretive software became available on devices including desktop printers and smartphones.

Compare Auto-ID Technologies

See a direct comparison of auto-identification technologies.

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