Indoor navigation: wiki Technical terms explained

Indoor localization with RFID (radio-frequency identification)

How can RFID be used for indoor positioning?

RFID technology makes it possible to identify and locate objects, people and animals and to read and save data contactless through electromagnetic waves. For RFID position tracking you need a transponder and a reading device. The transponder can save data. Unlike other positioning technologies, RFID doesn’t allow for exhaustive localization, but rather for a selective object identification.

In most cases, the transponder (= RFID tag) is passive and has no power supply of its own. Depending on the frequency range, the reader must be located within a radius of between a few centimeters and one meter from the transponder to be able to interchange data.

Active RFID tags are also available. They have an individual battery and thus are heavier and more expensive than passive transponders. However, they have a significantly higher range (up to 10 meters).

Use cases for RFID technology

  • logistics (stock control, supply chain management)
  • access control (car park, office buildings, ski pass)
  • identification of pets and livestock
  • time recording
  • retail (self-checkout, product information, debit cards, payment cards)
  • theft protection
  • traffic (toll systems, car park, electronic immobilizer)
  • healthcare (backtracking of medication and units of stored blood, identification and localization of patients, quality management, localization of medical equipment)

Indoor positioning with RFID

RFID technology is most frequently deployed in industry and logistics. For example it is possible to track objects along the supply chain. It is also possible to store data on the RFID tag which is attached to the object. The data can for example include an expiration date. It can also be beneficial to locate and identify patients and medical equipment in hospitals. For this purpose, readers are installed at relevant locations within the building.


Indoor Positioning with RFID

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