RFID: A Technological Journey

Although RFID may seem like a new technology, it has actually been around since the 1970’s. These inductively coupled RFID tags were strictly used on large scale items that needed to travel long distances, and consisted of metal coils, antennae, and glass. The inductively coupled RFID tags were powered via a magnetic field given off by the RFID reader. Since the technology was very complicated, it was costly and therefore only used when absolutely necessary.

Shortly after, Capacitively coupled tags were created in hopes of lowering the cost of RFID. These tags were disposable, and could be applied on more items. These tags used conductive carbon ink rather than metal coils in order to transmit data. The carbon ink was printed on labels, and then was able to be scanned by readers. Motorola hade developed BiStatix RFID tags which used a silicon chip, but price was still an issue and retailers never quite caught on as much as anticipated.

Finally, with the advent of active, semi-active, and passive RFID tags that can store up to 2 kilobytes of data, RFID technology is finally starting to catch on. Today, tags consist of a microchip, antenna, and a battery (active and semi-active).

While RFID technology is still not a fully adopted technology, it has definitely come a long way since the 70’s. Once developers are able to reduce the cost per tag, I feel as though RFID tags will make a much larger presence, especially in retail markets.

Learn more about RFID technology here.