RFID ( English radio-frequency identification [ ˈɹeɪdɪəʊ ˈfɹiːkwənsi aɪˌdɛntɪfɪˈkeɪʃn̩ ] " Identification with the help of electromagnetic waves ") describes a technology for transmitter-receiver systems for the automatic and contactless identification and localization of objects and living beings with radio waves.
An RFID system consists of a transponder (also known colloquially as a radio tag ), which is located on or in the object or living being and contains an identifying code, as well as a reader for reading this identifier.
RFID transponders can be as small as a grain of rice and can be implanted, for example in pets or people. In addition, there is the possibility of producing RFID transponders using a special printing process of stable circuits from polymers . The advantages of this technology result from the combination of the small size, the inconspicuous readout option (e.g. with the ID card introduced in Germany on November 1st, 2010 ) and the low price of the transponder (sometimes in the cent range).
The coupling takes place via magnetic alternating fields generated by the reader within a short range or via high-frequency radio waves. This not only transfers data, but also supplies the transponder with energy. To achieve greater ranges, active transponders with their own power supply are used, but these are associated with higher costs.
The first RFID applications were used in the aerial warfare between Great Britain and Germany at the end of the Second World War. A secondary radar was used there to identify friend and foe . Transponders and reading units were installed in the aircraft and tanks in order to recognize whether the position to be shot at or the approaching aircraft were to be attacked or not. Successor systems are still used in the armies today. Harry Stockman is considered to be the one who laid the foundations of RFID with his publication "Communication by Means of Reflected Power" in October 1948.
At the end of the 1960s, “Siemens Car Identification”, or SICARID for short, was developed as one of many proprietary solutions. This made it possible to clearly identify the railroad car and later the car parts in the paint shop. It was used until the 1980s. The identification carriers were cavity resonators that could cover a data space of 12 bits by screwing in screws . They were queried by a linear frequency ramp. These cavity resonators can be regarded as the first purely passive and electromagnetically interrogable transponders. The first passive backscatter transponder of the type still used today with its own digital logic circuit was only presented in an IEEE article in 1975.
In the 1970s, the first primitive commercial forerunners to RFID technology came onto the market. These were electronic article surveillance systems ( EAS). By checking for the presence of the marking, an alarm can be triggered in the event of theft. The systems were based on high frequency technology or low or medium frequency induction transmission .
1979 brought numerous new developments and possible uses for RFID technology. One focus was on applications for agriculture, such as animal identification , e.g. B. for racing pigeons, livestock and other pets.
The use of RFID technology has been promoted since the 1980s, in particular by the decision of several American states and Norway to use RFID transponders in road traffic for toll systems . In the 1990s , RFID technology, such as the E-ZPass , was widely used in the USA for toll systems.
New systems for electronic locks, access controls, cashless payments, ski passes, fuel cards, electronic immobilizers and so on followed.
In 1999, with the founding of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, the development of a global standard for goods identification was heralded. When the work on the Electronic Product Code (EPC) was completed, the Auto-ID Center was closed in 2003. At the same time, the results were passed on to EPCglobal Inc., newly founded by the Uniform Code Council (UCC) and EAN International (now GS1 US and GS1).
In 2006, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research (IFAM) in Bremen succeeded for the first time in pouring temperature-insensitive RFID transponders into metallic components made of light metal. This process development makes it possible to replace the conventional methods for product identification of cast components with RFID technology and to integrate the RFID transponders directly into the component during component manufacture in the die casting process. In 2011 IFAM announced that it had also succeeded in integrating an RFID chip with the generative manufacturing process of laser melting into surgical instruments with complex inner workings.
The RFID transponders initially differ from one another depending on the transmission frequency, manufacturer and intended use. The structure of an RFID transponder basically provides an antenna , an analog circuit for receiving and transmitting ( transceiver ) as well as a digital circuit and a permanent memory. The digital circuit is a small microcontroller in more complex models .
RFID transponders have a memory that can be written to at least once and contains their unchangeable identity. If rewritable memories are used, further information can be stored during the service life.
In systems that are standardized according to ISO 18000-1 ff., The identification information is transmitted as follows: The reader, which, depending on the type, can also write data, generates a high-frequency alternating electromagnetic field to which the RFID transponder ( RFID tag ; from English tag : label, attachment note) is exposed. The high-frequency energy picked up by the antenna serves as a power supply for his chip during the communication process. With active tags, the energy can also be supplied by a built-in battery. With semi-active tags, the battery only supplies the microchip.
The activated microchip in the RFID tag decodes the commands sent by the reader. The response encodes and modulates the RFID tag into the radiated electromagnetic field by weakening the field in a contact-free short circuit or by reflecting the field emitted by the reader in antiphase. In this way, the tag transmits its serial number (UID), further data on the marked object or other information requested by the reader. The tag itself does not generate a field, but influences the electromagnetic transmission field of the reader.
Depending on the type, the RFID tags work in the range of long wave at 125 kHz, 134 kHz, 250 kHz, medium wave at 375 kHz, 500 kHz, 625 kHz, 750 kHz, 875 kHz, and short wave (HF) at 13.56 MHz , the UHF at 865–869 MHz (European frequencies) or 950 MHz (US and Asian frequency bands) or the SHF at 2.45 GHz and 5.8 GHz. The released frequencies for LF and UHF tags differ regionally for Asia, Europe and America and are coordinated by the ITU .
HF tags use load modulation , which means that by short-circuiting they consume part of the energy of the alternating magnetic field. This can be detected by the reader, but theoretically also by a more distant receiver. The antennas of an HF tag form an induction coil with several turns.
UHF tags, on the other hand, work in the electromagnetic far field to convey the response; the process is called modulated backscattering . The antennas are mostly linear, folded or spiral dipoles, the chip sits in the middle between the linear or multiply angled dipole arms of the RFID tag. There are also UHF tags without such antennas, the range of which is extremely short.
Circular polarization is often used so that a tag can be read both horizontally and vertically . Although this reduces the signal-to-noise ratio , the orientation in which the tag is affixed to the goods is irrelevant. Since water absorbs the UHF energy very strongly and metal reflects these electromagnetic waves very strongly, these materials influence the propagation of the antenna fields. Furthermore, dielectric underground materials 'detune' the resonance frequency of the antennas, so it is necessary to match UHF tags as precisely as possible to the materials of the marked objects or to equip the tags with a metal foil that shields the background.
The UHF or SHF technology is designed to be much more complex than the LF or HF technology. Due to their speed, UHF and SHF tags can transmit significantly longer data records in one passage.
A commercially available passive UHF tag with an NXP chip according to ISO / IEC 18000 –6C requires around 0.35 microamps of current for the chip. The energy for this is provided by the reader's radiation field . Since the intensity decreases quadratically with the distance, the reader has to transmit correspondingly strong; Usually between 0.5 and 2 watt EIRP transmission power is used here. Semi-active tags get the same range with a hundredth of this transmission power.
For more complex applications, cryptography modules or external sensors such as B. GPS can be integrated into the RFID transponder. The RFID transceiver units differ in terms of range, functional scope of the control functions and appearance. It is therefore possible to integrate them directly into shelves or personnel locks (e.g. for access security and in gate entrances).
The large number of different devices and labels is fully compatible within the framework of the various standards (ISO / IEC standards ISO / IEC 18000-x). However, new proprietary solutions are constantly being presented that deviate from these standards and, in some cases, cannot be used in one neighborhood at the same time.
Problems can arise in various ways because the RFID transponder is located directly on the product and this is electromagnetically poorly compatible with the selected tag. In order to avoid electromagnetic adaptation problems, in logistics u. a. So-called flap or flag tags are used, which protrude at right angles from the product and are thus a large distance from the product.
The reading success (reading rate) of an RFID solution can be reduced by a large number of error cases (tag defective, reader defective, tag missing, reader offline, movement in the wrong direction, too fast or too close together, etc.).
Transponders consist of:
- Microchip, the size around a millimeter in diameter.
- Antenna, usually in the form of a coil. In the case of miniature transponders, the diameter of the antennas is usually a few millimeters; for applications with greater ranges, antenna diameters of up to half a meter can occur.
- a carrier or housing. The housing protects the transponder electronics from the environment.
- Only with active transponders: An energy source, for example a battery. With passive transponders, the energy is supplied from the outside via the antenna.
The antenna and the housing are decisive for the size ; the microchip can be made sufficiently small. With the exception of the antenna, all necessary electronic components are integrated on the microchip. The shape and size of the antenna depends on the frequency or wavelength and application. Depending on the required application, transponders are offered in different designs, sizes and protection classes. The range of passive transponders depends not only on the frequency but also to a large extent on the antenna or coil size (inlay size). The range drops rapidly with both UHF and HF with smaller antennas.
Active RFID transponders can, depending on the area of application, be the size of books (e.g. in container logistics). However, with today's technology it is also possible to produce very small passive RFID transponders that can be used in banknotes or paper.
From the beginning of their use since 1980, transponders were primarily produced and used as "LF 125 kHz passive". ISOCARD and CLAMSHELL card designs from the LF 125 kHz range are the most frequently used designs worldwide in the area of access control and time recording. There are also designs that are built into the car key (immobilizer) or are used as implants , rumen boluses or ear tags to identify animals. There is also the option of integration in nails or PU disk TAGs for pallet identification, in chipcoins (billing systems e.g. in public pools) or in chip cards (access control).
In the area of electronic tickets, electronic wallets or electronic ID cards, 13.56 MHz Mifare or ICODE technology is used in accordance with standards such as ISO 15693 . The transponder chips are manufactured by NXP Semiconductors , among others . In this area there are also special transponders that can be inserted directly into metallic objects such as B. metallic tools can be used. The structure is based on a bobbin for the antenna coil and a carrier for the transponder chip. In order to protect the transponder from external mechanical influences and chemical media and to make it sufficiently durable for being pressed into a 4 mm hole, appropriate housing shapes are available. These transponders, which also work in the 13.56 MHz band, can, however, only be read at close range due to the shielding effect of the metallic environment. It is generally necessary to hold the reader and the antenna coil in the form of a 4 mm thick pen directly on the transponder.
The clearest distinguishing feature is the type of energy supply to the RFID transponder.
- Passive RFID transponders are supplied from the radio signals of the interrogation device. With a coil as a receiving antenna , a capacitor is charged by induction similar to a transformer , which enables the response to be sent in interruptions of the interrogation signal. This allows a more sensitive reception of the response signal without being disturbed by reflections of the query signal from other objects. However, until enough energy is available for a response signal, a latency period passes. The low power of the response signal limits the possible range. Due to the low costs per transponder, typical applications are those in which many transponders are needed, for example for labeling products or for identifying documents. Often this happens with ranges of just a few centimeters in order to keep the number of responding transponders small.
RFID transponders with their own energy supply enable greater ranges, lower latencies, a larger range of functions, such as temperature monitoring of refrigerated transports, but also cause significantly higher costs per unit. That is why they are used where the objects to be identified or tracked are themselves expensive, e.g. B. with reusable containers in container logistics (for sea containers so far only sporadic introduction, no globally effective agreement) or with trucks in connection with toll collection.
Battery-operated transponders are mostly in the sleep mode and do not send any information before they are activated ( triggered ) by a special activation signal . This increases the lifespan of the energy source to months or years. A distinction is made between two types of separately powered RFID transponders:
- Active RFID transponders use their energy source both to supply the microchip and to generate the modulated return signal. The range can be kilometers, depending on the permissible transmission power.
- Semi-active RFID transponders or semi-passive RFID transponders are more economical because they do not have their own transmitter, but only modulate their backscatter coefficient, see Modulated backscatter . For this, the range is reduced to a maximum of 100 m depending on the power and antenna gain of the transmitter. The other advantages over passive transponders are retained.
So far, various ISM frequency bands have been proposed for use and partially approved across Europe or internationally:
- Long waves (LF, 30-500 kHz). They have a short to medium range (≤ 1 meter) at a low data rate. Detection rates of 35 transponders per second for up to 800 transponders in the antenna field are possible. LF transponders are a little more expensive to buy, but the read / write devices are comparatively cheap. This gives the LF systems cost advantages, provided that relatively few transponders but many read / write devices are required. The LF systems can cope with high (air) humidity and metal and are offered in a variety of designs. These properties favor the use in harsh industrial environments, but they are also used e.g. B. used for access control, immobilizers and warehouse management (often 125 kHz). Some LF versions are also suitable for use in potentially explosive areas and are ATEX certified.
- Shortwave (HF, 3-30 MHz). Short to medium range, medium to high transmission speed. Medium to high price range for readers with ranges greater than 10 cm, inexpensive readers for short ranges. The so-called smart tags (mostly 13.56 MHz) work in this frequency range .
- Very high frequencies (UHF, 433 MHz ( USA, DoD ), 850–950 MHz ( EPC and others)). Long range (2–6 meters for passive transponders ISO / IEC 18000–6C; around 6 meters and up to 100 m for semi-active transponders) and high reading speed. Use z. B. in the field of manual, semi-automatic, automated goods distribution with pallets and container identification (door seals, license plates) and for checking individual shipping and trading units (EPC tags) as well as for license plates (previously only in Great Britain). Typical frequencies are 433 MHz, 868 MHz (Europe), 915 MHz (USA), 950 MHz (Japan). Due to their low price, they are now also used permanently on products for end users such as clothing, but their range of several meters sometimes causes incorrect readings by the reader, for example through reflections.
- Microwave frequencies (SHF, 2.4-2.5 GHz, 5.8 GHz and above). Short range for exclusively semi-active transponders of 0.5 m to 6 m with higher reading speed due to high passage speed for vehicle applications (cars in parking garages, wagons in train stations, trucks in entrances, all vehicle types at toll stations).
The older types of RFID transponders send their information in plain text , as provided for in the ISO / IEC 18000 standard . Newer models also have the option of encrypting their data transmission or of not opening parts of the data memory for every access. In the case of special RFID transponders, which are used, for example, to control access to external mobile security media, the RFID information is already transmitted encrypted with 128-bit according to the AES standard.
Modulation and coding methods
Keying / modulation refers to a process for routing digital signals over analog transmission channels. The term keying comes from the early days of the telegraph. Modulation methods include:
- Amplitude Shift Keying (ASK): used in proximity and vicinity coupling
- Frequency Shift Keying (FSK, 2 FSK): used for vicinity coupling
- Phase Shift Keying (PSK, 2 PSK): used for close coupling
- Phase jitter modulation, (PJM): statistical modulation method and standardized in ISO / IEC 18000-3 for use in RFIDs.
Higher modulation methods such as phase jitter modulation are used in RFID systems when a large number of RFIDs in close proximity are to be read out almost simultaneously.
The line coding ("encoding") defines between sender and receiver how the digital data is recoded in such a way that it is optimally adapted to the properties of the transmission channel, in this case the radio link. The most commonly used channel coding methods in the RFID area are:
- Biphase mark code and the inverted biphase space code
- Pulse phase modulations in combination with the RZ code
- Manchester code
- Miller code
The term bulk detection means the use of known protocols in which individual RFID tags are read one after the other, with this process organizing itself. It means that
- not all tags report to the same reader at the same time, and
- read only once every day, and
- A tag that has been read once is silent after the first successful reading until it leaves the reading field or the reading field is switched off,
- or the individual tag already known there is activated again directly by the reader.
Many applications of this technical radio isolation, also known as “singulation”, are intended to enable the recipient to recognize the different identities of the existing tags strictly one after the other. The concept is provided in various forms in the standard, but so far it is clearly not widespread. Other proprietary versions can be found at the various manufacturers. When it comes to technical problems with passive tags, the fact that active tags can report to a recipient at random does not change anything.
The following problem is not solved by RFID tags alone: To recognize
- how many objects,
- how many tags and
- how many license plates read
make a good reading result.
From the first reports to the present day, there are no known bulk detection devices that ensure complete recording (2011) and are therefore unsuitable for an inventory or a check of completeness.
If no anti-collision method and no muting are effective in the reading process, the geometric isolation outside the reading area and the restriction to one day in the reading area are the method with a generally better recognition rate.
Anti-collision or multi-access procedure (anti-collision)
The anti-collision describes a number of procedures that enable the tags to communicate at the same time, i.e. to exclude the overlapping of several different signals. The anti-collision procedure regulates the observance of the sequence or spacing of the responses, for example by sending these responses at random so that the recipient can read out each day individually. The performance of the anti-collision procedure is measured in the unit “tags / s”. There are four basic types of anti-collision or multi-access procedures:
- Space Division Multiple Access ( SDMA ): Distances, range, antenna type and positioning are set
- Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA): the access time is divided between the participants
- Frequency Division Multiple Access ( FDMA ): different frequencies are used
- Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
Typical anti-collision procedures in the RFID area are:
- Slotted ALOHA : a variant of the ALOHA method from the 1970s (Aloha Networks, Hawaii). Aloha was the inspiration for the Ethernet protocol and is a TDMA method.
- Adaptive Binary Tree: This technique uses a binary search to find a specific tag in a mass.
- Slotted Terminal Adaptive Collection (STAC): is similar to the ALOHA procedure, but is considerably more complex.
- EPC UHF Class I Gen 2: is a singulation process.
All RFID tags must be clearly marked so that the recipient can recognize responses / requests from all tags: RFID tags in which this marking can be changed are of no practical value for safe process management in an open system (example: EPC generation 1 ).
Distinguishing features of RFID systems
The minimum features of an RFID system are:
- a numbering system for RFID tags and for the items to be labeled
- a description of the procedure for marking and for writing and reading the mark
- an RFID tag attached to objects or living beings, which provides information to be read out serially electronically and without contact
- a matching RFID reader
Many tags also support one or more of the following operations:
- The tags can be activated via a so-called "kill code" or e.g. B. be permanently deactivated by a magnetic field (English kill, disable ).
- The tags allow data to be written once ( write once ).
- The tags can be written multiple times with data ( write many ).
- Anti-collision: The tags know when to wait or answer inquiries.
- Security: The tags can request a secret password (also encrypted) before they communicate.
Data stream operating modes
- full duplex system (FDX)
- half duplex system (HDX)
- sequential system (SEQ)
The capacity of the writable memory of an RFID chip ranges from a few bits to several KBytes . The 1-bit transponders are, for example, in goods security labels and only allow the distinction “there” or “not there”.
The data record of the transponder is permanently stored in it as a continuous, unique number (inherent identity) when it is produced or as non-unique data (e.g. batch number) when it is applied. Modern tags can also be changed later or written with additional data.
Writable transponders currently mostly use the following storage technologies:
- Non-volatile memory (data is retained without power supply, therefore suitable for inductively supplied RFID):
- volatile memory (need an uninterrupted power supply to hold the data):
Passive transponders take their operating voltage from the (electromagnetic) field and store them in capacities in the chip for the response process. The reader illuminates the chip and it reflects a small part of the energy. The radiated energy must be around 1,000 times greater than the energy available for the response process. Passive transponders therefore need by far the most energetic reading field.
Semi-passive (also called semi-active) transponders have a (backup) battery for the volatile (volatile) memory and for operating connected sensors, but not for data transmission. The energy ratio between lighting and reflection corresponds to that of passive tags.
Active transponders use batteries for the processor and also for data transfer, are equipped with their own transmitter and thus achieve a greater range. The interrogation signal of the reader is about as low as the transmission signal of the transponder, so the reading process for active transponders is particularly low-interference compared to passive transponders.
Beacon transmitters that continuously transmit intermittently and do not react to a stimulus always work with batteries (primary batteries or accumulators). The energy ratio between query and response signal corresponds to that of active tags. The transmission process for beacon transponders is particularly low-interference compared to passive transponders, regardless of the constant transmission function.
In Germany, active transponders are also classified as telemetry devices (see below). Telemetry SRDs (radio connections over short distances, e.g. from sensors) are sometimes referred to as RFID, they use an active transmitter that is supplied with energy, for example by solar cells or the movement of the object (e.g. tire pressure sensor). In warm-blooded creatures, the supply from a temperature difference is also in development.
|frequency||Area||Permitted frequencies ( ISM band )|
|Long wave frequencies (LF)||30 ... 300 kHz||9 ... 135 kHz|
|Shortwave Frequencies (HF)||3… 30 MHz||6.78 MHz, 13.56 MHz, 27.125 MHz, 40.680 MHz|
|Decimeter waves (UHF)||0.3 ... 3 GHz||433.920 MHz, 868 MHz, 915 MHz, 2.45 GHz|
|Microwaves (SHF)||> 3 GHz||5.8 GHz, 24.125 GHz|
Ranges and typical applications
According to the English usage, the following distinctions have been established:
- Close coupling : 0… 1 cm (ISO 10536)
- Remote coupling (also proximity coupling ): 0… 0.1 m (ISO 14443, ISO 18000-3)
- Remote coupling (also vicinity coupling ): 0… 1 m (ISO 15693, ISO 18000-3)
- Long range coupling : more than 1 m (ISO 18000-4, ISO 18000-5, ISO 18000-7)
|frequency||Typical max. Range for tags||Typical applications|
|Long wave frequencies (LF)||0.5 m (passive)||Animal identification and reading of objects with high water content|
|Shortwave Frequencies (HF)||0.5 m (passive)||Access control|
|Decimeter waves (UHF)||3–6 m (passive)||Warehouse and logistics area (pallets)|
|Microwaves||≈10 m (active)||Vehicle identification|
Technically, greater distances can be achieved, but only the specified ranges at permitted transmission field strengths are typical. The illumination field strength for passive tags (query by reading devices) is around a factor of 1,000 higher than the transmission field strength of active tags (reception by reading devices).
- Reflection / directional or non-directional scattering ( backscatter ): The frequency of the reflected wave is the transmission frequency of the reader
- Attenuation modulation: the field of the reader is influenced by the transponder (frequency ratio 1: 1)
- subharmonic wave (frequency ratio 1: n)
- Generation of harmonics (n-fold) in the transponder
- electrostatic fields in capacitive coupling (rather the exception for RFID, not a standard)
- Magnetic fields for inductive coupling or near field coupling ( NFC ): Data transmission and usually also energy supply take place via the magnetic near field of the coils in the reader and in the tag ( loop antennas or ferrite antennas are common ). This coupling is common at frequencies of 135 kHz (ISO 18000-2) and 13.56 MHz (ISO 18000-3) as well as for 13.56 MHz NFC (ISO 22536).
- Electromagnetic dipole fields for far field coupling : data transmission and often also power supply are carried out with antennas ( dipole antennas or spiral antennas are common ). This coupling is common at frequencies of 433 MHz (ISO 18000-7), at 868 MHz (ISO 18000-6) and at 2.45 GHz (ISO 18000-4).
In general, logistics is the main heading for the area of application. Logistical problems go across all industries. There is a huge potential for rationalization to be exploited here. The breakthrough to general expansion usually fails due to problems in budgeting the business case across company boundaries (see also metering point (logistics) ).
Some institutions also hope for improved monitoring of the movement of people and goods. The technical effort and costs on the RFID side are manageable. The expected huge amounts of data limit the practical implementation.
The term “forgery-proof” in this context will be put into perspective after a short time.
The following list contains only a few currently (2013) important areas:
The e-Plate number plates identify themselves automatically on reading devices. This enables access controls, inner-city toll systems and section control speed measurements. If the sensor network is sufficiently dense, route profiles can also be created. In a large-scale test in April / May 2006, the British Ministry of Transport had around 50,000 license plates fitted with RFID radio chips. The aim is to collect information about the counterfeit rate and the validity of registration and insurance cover. If the tests are successful, a nationwide introduction is planned. The detection takes place at a distance of less than ten meters. Utilization of the speed measurement with the help of this technology is currently severely restricted by British case law. As of 2006, wagons and locomotives in the USA and Canada are marked on both sides with an RFID tag approximately W × H × D 25 × 5 × 1 cm in size, which is read at around 500 stations from the side while driving.
Electronic construction status documentation
The automotive industry uses RFID for the automated documentation of the construction status of test vehicles and prototype parts (project glass prototype ).
As early as 2003 it became known that the European Central Bank was negotiating with the Japanese electronics group Hitachi about the integration of RFID transponders in euro banknotes. A unique 38-digit sequence of digits (128 bits) is stored on the so-called μ-chip (0.16 mm² × 0.064 mm thick). Banknotes marked with such an RFID chip should be better protected against forgery . A complete documentation of the circulation would also be conceivable. Due to the costs associated with the implementation as well as data protection problems, the introduction is not yet planned.
Debit and credit cards with a wireless payment system also allow identification. The security risk, which could possibly arise from unnoticed reading and debiting, is countered by limiting the payment amounts to a maximum amount or to a certain credit. Examples are the Paypass system from Mastercard.
Identification of people
RFID chips are included in all German passports issued since November 1, 2005 and in all identity cards from November 1, 2010 . The Swiss passport has been delivered with an RFID chip since March 1, 2010. In November 2004 the US American health authority (FDA) approved the use of the " VeriChip " on humans. The transponder from the US company Applied Digital Solutions is implanted under the skin. It is advertised with the simple availability of vital information in an emergency. Other solutions, on the other hand, work with patient wristbands and link this data to the patient information system in the hospital via the PDA of the medical staff.
Identification of animals
RFID transponders have been used on farm animals since the 1970s. In addition to the identification of farm animals with collars, ear tags and boluses, implants are used on pets ( EU pet passport , ISO / IEC 11784 and ISO / IEC 11785). The animals in the zoo also receive such implants.
- 125 kHz - international for zoo animal husbandry, farm animal identification, sea turtle registration, research.
- ISO 134.2 kHz - (originally European) international standard in farm animal identification, implants for pets.
Authenticity feature for drugs
The US Food and Drug Administration recommends the use of RFID technology in the fight against counterfeit drugs. So far, however, mainly optical processes have been used, since their material expenditure is economically justifiable. For the transport of temperature-sensitive medical products, RFID tags with sensor functions are often used on the transport containers. The recording documents a violation of transport conditions and supports the protection of the patient through qualified discarding of incorrectly transported goods.
Hose stations and bottling plants
In industrial use for reliable control and electronic monitoring of transferring and filling processes. The RFID antenna is located in the coupling half on the system side, the RFID transponder in the movable coupling half, e.g. B. hose side on a tank car. In this way, all necessary information is transmitted contactlessly when coupled. The system control can then automatically start the following process steps.
Printed circuit boards with RFID tags
Textiles and clothing
In the textile and clothing industry , an increasingly widespread use of RFID is very likely due to a higher margin compared to other industries. As the first company in the world, Lemmi Fashion (children's fashion) has converted the entire supply chain to RFID and implemented extensive integration with merchandise management. The company Levi Strauss & Co. has also begun their jeans fitted with RFID tags. Another RFID pioneer is the Gerry Weber company , which has been involved in various projects with the technology since 2004 and has integrated an RFID tag into all items of clothing since 2010, which also acts as a security device . RFID has been used by the fashion company C&A since 2012 and by Adler Modemärkte since 2013/2014 . The sporting goods chain Decathlon has been sewing RFID labels into textiles of its house brands since 2013 and attaching them to third-party products.
Special mechanical seals with additional RFID tags have been designed for sea containers, which are already used in individual cases. They are either used repeatedly (semi-active RFID tags according to ISO / IEC 17363, from 2007) or used once (passive RFID tags according to ISO / IEC 18185, from 2007). So far there is no obligation to use such electronic seals.
As part of the vehicle key, transponders form the backbone of the electronic immobilizer. When plugged in, the transponder is read out via an ignition lock reading coil and, with its stored code, represents the supplementary key element of the vehicle key. Crypto-transponders are usually used for this purpose, the contents of which cannot be manipulated without being destroyed.
Theft protection is bought at the expense of € 200 in practice to replace a lost key, including coding, for which all keys that will be valid in the future, the vehicle and the device of the brand dealer must be brought together.
Contactless chip cards
Contactless, rechargeable tickets are widely used in Asia and larger cities. The global market leader for so-called ticketing is NXP (emerged from Philips) with its Mifare system. In the USA and Europe, systems for access control and time recording are already often implemented with RFID technology. Mostly Mifare or HiD or iClass5 are used here worldwide and in Europe mainly Legic , Mifare and sometimes different 125 kHz processes (Hitag, Miro etc.). Some credit card providers are already using RFID chips as the successor to magnetic strips or contact chips. In 2006, RFID technology was used in Germany for tickets to the soccer World Cup . The aim is to reduce the black market of tickets by binding the card to the buyer. At Bayer 04 Leverkusen , VfL Wolfsburg and Alemannia Aachen , this technology is already being used in Bundesliga games. Almost all larger ski areas in the Alps now only use contactless ski passes. The German Golf Association has been providing its members with the optional DGV-AusweisPlus with optional Mifare chip since 2007. In 2016, more than 240,000 DGV-AusweisPlus (annual passes) were issued.
Goods and inventory management
RFID is used for media accounting and security in libraries of all sizes and types. Prominent installations are the Munich city library , the Hamburg public library , the Vienna main library , the Stuttgart city library and the main libraries of the Graz University of Technology and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology . In 2013, the conversion of media management to RFID was also completed in the network of Berlin's public libraries . The library of the University of Konstanz is also equipping its media with RFID technology as part of the renovation.
The RFID readers are able to read special RFID transponders in batches and without contact. This feature is called bulk acquisition . When it comes to borrowing and returning, this means that the books, magazines and audiovisual media do not have to be individually displayed and scanned. In this way, the library user can independently borrow all media at the RFID self-check terminals. The return of media can also be automated: specially developed RFID return machines enable returns outside of opening hours. There are readers on the doors and stairways that look like security barriers in department stores. They control the correct borrowing. With special RFID reading devices, the inventory of the inventory and the finding of missing media is noticeably easier and faster.
Large retail chains such as Metro , Rewe , Tesco and Walmart are interested in using RFID to control the flow of goods in the storefront. This commitment has recently led to discussions. The simplification for the customer (e.g. automation of the payment process) is offset by data protection concerns. The Chinese retail chain BingoBox , which operates small markets with no staff, uses RFID tags on every piece of merchandise.
In industrial use in closed areas, driverless transport systems are used in which the position is determined with the help of transponders embedded in the floor at a short distance from one another based on their known position via the read identity and via interpolation. Such systems are dependent on the fact that only previously certain routes and routes are used. The magnetically coupled Eurobalise is used for rail vehicles .
In the Austrian districts of Kufstein and Kitzbühel, an RFID-based garbage measurement system based on volume measurement in liters was developed and introduced across the board in 1993 ; all the transponders of the first edition (AEGID Trovan ID200 125 kHz) from 1993 are still in use with the original equipment, despite the renewed removal vehicles (and reader units). With this system, garbage is prescribed based on actually measured liters (ongoing billing per quarter). The system links the address elements street, house number, door and top, automates a number of people (data query from Austria's central register) with each garbage can and adds up this virtually calculated minimum amount of garbage to the garbage can accounts regardless of the amount of garbage actually removed. In order to avoid the otherwise inevitable misuse of a volume-based waste billing through littering , the system compares the annual amount of waste actually removed per container at the end of the year with a minimum amount of waste calculated virtually from the number of people (2-3 liters per week and person per community) and writes if the amount of waste falls below the measured amount a difference in the annual financial statements. The system described was in use without conflicts and without any technical loss of data until 2015. Processes relevant to data protection law take place without exception within the communal municipality administration, every citizen can, on request, inspect his garbage measurement data in his home municipality.
In the German district of Celle , garbage cans have been labeled with chips since around 1993. In the summer of 2013, the old chips, which are no longer manufactured, were replaced by chips in the form of a pin socket. All residual waste, organic and paper bins are equipped with it. The Zweckverband Abfallwirtschaft Celle records the number of empties in the calendar year and issues fee notifications for residual waste and organic waste, taking into account the number of empties. If a minimum number of empties is not reached, the notification of a basic fee independent of the number of empties is issued. The weight or volume is not recorded, the number of times it has been emptied applies. Statistics on the number of free empties are kept for paper bins. The yellow bins have no electronic identification and are emptied free of charge.
In the German cities of Bremen and Dresden , rubbish bins for chargeable collection are also provided with RFID transponders. The free removal of paper, green waste and packaging is not recorded. When emptying, the transport vehicles use calibrated scales to record the weight of each individual ton. The pick-up weight of each ton can be assigned to an individual household via RFID; In Dresden, the citizens receive an invoice based on the actually emptied weight (and not, as usual, on a volume flat rate), or in Bremen on the number of actual emptyings in excess of the flat rate (and not, as usual , solely on a blanket number).
In Great Britain , several hundred thousand garbage cans were provided with RFID transponders without the knowledge of the citizens. The background should be the intention of the British municipalities to record the recycling behavior of the citizens.
Transponders on or in the key are used to check if workstations are equipped with appropriate reading devices, as well as for user authentication for special external mobile security hard drives if these are equipped with appropriate reading devices in the housing.
Transponders on or in the key are used for access control if the doors are equipped with appropriate readers or with appropriate locking cylinders with a reading option.
Transponders are used on the shoe (strap) or in the start number of a runner or on or in the context of a racing bike as a digital identification feature in sports competitions (product examples : ChampionChip , Bibchip, DigiChip)
At terminals , the times of coming and going, and possibly also the break times, are recorded when the user brings his RFID medium (usually chip card or key fob) within reading range.
Rescue and emergency services
In the fire and rescue service, RFID transponders can be used to recognize people using the transponder and thus to organize the issue of clothing, protective equipment and accessories at a central point (in so-called clothes closets).
For certain clothing there are also transponders in the form of buttons that can be sewn onto items of clothing. This simplifies the inventory and management of the garments.
In addition, driving licenses can be supplemented with small transponders without negatively affecting the statutory identification requirement. For example, emergency personnel can use this to query the suitability for driving a vehicle in appropriate programs.
Furthermore, the personnel administration can be simplified in that the emergency services can use such RFID transponders to register for courses, competitions and exercises, and confirm their participation on site.
RFID in loading aids
Some manufacturers of loading aids offer solutions with integrated RFID transponders according to ISO / IEC 18000-6C. Examples are plastic or wooden transport pallets and small load carriers . The integrated transponders can be used, for example, for load carrier or container management or after the temporary marriage of the aid with the goods to be transported as an identification feature of the loading unit within the scope of supply chain event management .
RFID at airports
By 2020, nationwide airports should be equipped with readers for RFID chips integrated in the baggage tag with personal data such as the name and gender of the owner. This is intended to reduce the loss of luggage and to better record the luggage. At airports such as Las Vegas since 2016 and Hong Kong , Milan-Malpensa , Lisbon and Aalborg , RFID technology was already introduced in 2017 in addition to barcodes. Almost all flight luggage should be equipped with it by the end of 2023. Without RFID, 1.8% of the baggage items were misdirected.
Distribution and Cost
|Branch||Cum. Number (in millions)|
|Transport / automotive||1000|
|Finance / Security||670|
|Trade / consumer goods||230|
|Animals / agriculture||45|
|Logistics / post||10|
Between 1944 and 2005, a total of 2.397 billion RFID chips were sold. The exact distribution according to application is as follows:
In 2005, 565 million high-frequency RFID tags (according to ISO / IEC 14443 ) were sold, which is due in particular to the increased demand in the logistics sector. For 2006, worldwide sales of 1.3 billion RFID tags are expected. I.a. Due to the increasing standardization of RFID solutions as well as the growing exchange of interested parties with one another, market researchers had to lower their forecast for market growth in 2007 by 15%. It was expected that in 2007, around 3.7 billion US dollars for RFID services and solutions would be less.
In industrial applications, the costs for the chips and their expected degression are not the decisive factor. Installation costs for things that appear banal, such as cabling, sockets, transmitters and antennas and so on, which are installed in conventional craftsmanship and for which are much more significant therefore, economies of scale can hardly be expected. When comparing the profitability of RFID with barcodes , for example , these infrastructure costs were and remained, which could not be compensated by the expected rationalization yields of an RFID system.
The costs for the transponder (i.e. the RFID chips) are between 35 euros per piece for active transponders in small quantities and foreseeable 5 to 10 cents per piece for simple passive transponders with purchase of several billion.
A number of universities offer courses in the field of RFID as part of their existing training. Since the summer semester 2009, for example, it has been possible to complete a master’s degree at the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences .
Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)
- VDA 5500: Basics for the use of RFID in the automotive industry
- VDA 5501: RFID use in container management
- VDA 5509: AutoID / RFID use and data transfer for tracking parts and components in vehicle development
- VDA 5510: RFID for tracking parts and assemblies
- VDA 5520: Use of RFID in vehicle distribution
- Garbage disposal
- BDE VKI (modification of ISO 11784/11785)
- Animal identification
- ISO 11784
- ISO 11785: FDX, HDX, SEQ
- ISO 14223: advanced transponders
- Contactless smart cards
- ISO / IEC 10536: close coupling smart cards (range up to 1 cm)
- ISO / IEC 14443 : proximity coupling smart cards (range up to 10 cm)
- ISO / IEC 15693: vicinity smart cards (range up to 1 m)
- ISO / IEC 10373: Test methods for smart cards
- ISO 69873: for the tool sector
- Container identification (logistics area)
- ISO 10374: Container identification (logistics area)
- ISO 10374.2: "Freight Container - Automatic Identification" the so-called license plate
- ISO 17363: "Supply Chain application of RFID - Freight Containers" the so-called shipment tag
- ISO 18185: "Freight Container - Electronic Seals" the so-called eSeal (electronic seal)
- VDI 4470: Theft protection for goods (EAS)
- VDI 4472: Requirements for transponder systems for use in the supply chain
- Sheet 1: Use of transponder technology (general part)
- Sheet 2: Use of transponder technology in the textile chain (HF systems)
- Sheet 4: Cost-benefit assessment of RFID systems in logistics
- Sheet 5: Use of transponder technology in returnable logistics
- Sheet 8: Guide for the management of RFID projects
- Sheet 10: Acceptance procedure for checking the performance of the RFID system area
- Sheet 12: Use of transponder technology to support traceability using the example of the automotive supply chain
- Item Management (management of items)
ISO / IEC 18000 Information technology - Radio frequency identification for item management:
- Part 1: Reference architecture and definition of parameters to be standardized
- Part 2: Parameters for air interface communications below 135 kHz
- Part 3: Parameters for air interface communications at 13.56 MHz
- Part 4: Parameters for air interface communications at 2.45 GHz
- Part 6: Parameters for air interface communications at 860 MHz to 960 MHz
- Part 7: Parameters for active air interface communications at 433 MHz
- ISO / IEC 18000 Information technology - Radio frequency identification for item management:
- Data structures and reader communication protocols
- EPCglobal ( Electronic Product Code )
- ISO / IEC 15961 AIDC RFID Data Protocol - Application interface
- ISO / IEC 15962 AIDC RFID Data Protocol - Encoding Rules
Concerns and criticism
An RFID label is initially an open - that is, readable for everyone equipped with the necessary technology - individual label. In connection with concerns about RFID chips, the term “spy chips” is used.
The limitation of the RFID technology can be recognized by the technically usable range and the selected fixed information. RFID chips do not provide any information about the exact location (position), orientation (direction) or movement (speed), but rather the identity of the license plate without any further information about the wearer of the license plate.
Location information is always obtained indirectly via knowledge of the location of the reader. RFIDs attached to portable objects and carried by people with them pose a risk to informational self-determination, since the data read out can be related to individuals if the context is known (see below). In this regard, RFID is like a switched-on mobile phone , the location of which can be determined approximately from the nearest radio cell . Due to the comparatively short range of a few meters with passive RFID chips, the location determination at the moment of reading is much more precise, even more precise than with civilian use of GPS . With the strategically clever placement of several reading devices at various traffic junctions, bottlenecks, doors and the like, a movement profile that is relatively precise in terms of time and space can be created. There is a risk for informational self-determination in particular from the fact that many RFIDs are hidden, i.e. the wearer does not know that they are carrying them, in combination with a completely unnoticed readout process.
Dangers of loss of informational self-determination
The danger of RFID technology lies, for example, in the loss of informational self-determination , i.e. H. Due to the "hidden" transmitters, the individual person no longer has any influence on which information is disclosed. Therefore, the upcoming massive use of RFID transponders is problematic from a data protection point of view. In order to avoid this, some critics suggest destroying the RFID transponder after purchase. This could be done at the checkout (similar to deactivating the anti-theft device ). Proof that a transponder has really been destroyed or that its memory has really been deleted is generally not possible for the consumer. This is why the technology is often pejoratively referred to as a sniffer chip or sniffer chip.
Furthermore, the integration of additional, undocumented memory cells or transponders is conceivable. For the consumer, an RFID transponder becomes a black box , which is why some demand seamless monitoring of the entire production process.
In 2003 the Metro group equipped some of its customer cards with RFID transponders without notifying its customers. The group was then given the negative Big Brother Award . Metro continues its RFID tests in its Future Store , but exchanged the customer cards in question. Data protection activists rate this as a result of their protests. In general, a customer can successfully defend himself against such practices if they are not done secretly. In 2007, Deutsche Bahn AG received the Big Brother Award because it continued to equip the BahnCard 100 with RFID chips without informing customers .
Attack or protection scenarios
- One can try to prevent the RFID transponders from receiving their energy . For example, you can take out the battery or put the RFID transponder in a Faraday cage . If RFID transponders couple inductively at low frequencies around 100 kHz, shielding made of magnetizable materials such as iron or mu-metal can be used. For high frequencies above 1 MHz, wrapping with thin aluminum foil is sufficient.
- With larger RFID transponders, the spirals of the antenna can be clearly seen in the X-ray image . If it is cut in one place, the RFID transponder will no longer work.
- The inductance of a coil antenna is usually matched to the working frequency with an integrated capacitor ( resonant circuit ). Covering with aluminum foil significantly increases the resonance frequency and reduces the range accordingly.
- An electromagnetic pulse on the transponder and antenna also destroys them and makes them unusable. An example of this was in the 2005 Chaos Communication Congress of the RFID-Zapper presented. This is a device that deactivates RFID transponders by means of an electromagnetic pulse. The high field strength of a microwave oven also destroys the electronics, albeit with the risk of damaging the carrier material (e.g. a customer card).
- Elaborate: By sending an interfering signal - preferably at the frequency on which the RFID transponder also transmits - the very weak signals from the RFID transponder can no longer be received. However, this jamming transmitter can in turn be located.
- The transmission can also be disturbed by placing a large number (several hundred to thousands) of RFID transponders on a common carrier (housing). If the resulting device (“jamming device”) is brought into the reading range of a reader, the tags all respond at the same time. Even if the reader works with an anti-collision method, it is overwhelmed with such a large number of transponders and is no longer able to recognize “real” RFID tags (e.g. on goods). Such jamming devices can be disguised as MP3 players, cell phones, etc.
- Hardly effective: As with the telephone (by wire or wireless), you can also spy on RFID signals. In this way, at best, you can read what the RFID is currently sending back.
- Extremely complex: RFID signals can be manipulated. Encryption methods are therefore also used in a memory chip for authentication .
- At the IEEE Conference of Pervasive Computing 2006 ( Percom ) in Pisa, scientists led by Andrew S. Tanenbaum presented a method how manipulated RFID chips can compromise the back-end databases of RFID systems. They describe their work as the world's first RFID virus of its kind. However, this representation is now viewed by various places as being too theoretically constructed.
Environment and recycling
According to the current state of knowledge, RFID tags attached to outer packaging cannot be recycled as easily as outer packaging without RFID tags. Single-type packaging material such as waste glass, waste paper or plastic can be contaminated by the difficult-to-separate RFID chips made of copper and other metals. Possible risks of contamination of the recycling material by RFID chips can mean more complex recycling or lower quality of the resulting raw materials.
There are currently no rules for disposing of transponders as electronic scrap when used in large quantities, such as with supermarket items. Among other things, research is being carried out on new materials (e.g. polymer-based), which should serve to further reduce manufacturing costs and open up new areas of application (e.g. transponders incorporated into ID cards and clothing).
Another point is the resource consumption of RFID transponders. Precious precious metals are lost with them to landfills and waste incineration plants . Although a single transponder only contains a small amount of precious metal, a large number of chips (e.g. in food packaging) would considerably increase the consumption of resources.
Disruption of medical technology by RFID
In the Journal of the American Medical Association , a study was published in June 2008, which proves that numerous diagnostic measurements are distorted by the necessary for reading electromagnetic waves from RFID. Medical technology devices, which are available in every well-equipped intensive care unit, reacted with varying degrees of sensitivity with measured value distortions. “At a distance of one centimeter to six meters, the medical devices malfunctioned in 34 of 123 tests. In 22 cases, these disorders were judged to be dangerous because ventilators failed or the breathing rate changed automatically, because infusion pumps stopped or external pacemakers failed, because a dialysis machine failed or the ECG monitor indicated a non-existent rhythm disturbance. "
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