thoughts and musings 

RFID Tag Transponders

My son who is, a bit on the weird side, asked me the other day about rfid tag transponders. (i told you he was weird.) this was the basis of our discussion.

'Dad, what's an rfid tag transponder?'

'Well, son...'

It's wrong to think of transponders as something related only to rfid tags. trasnponders are bascially components within some form of electronics that act as translators of signals.

Or put a better way the transponder is the part of the rfid tag that can actually speak to the tag reader. Transponders are not independent from rfid tags--simply the part of the tag that speaks the same language as the reader.

what's interesting is howsmall a technology we are talking about. don't think of a transponder as this large entity but a small thing that can be both transmitter and receiver.

Range of RFID Tags

This post is about the range of RFId tags. In the last post i talked about the uses of rfid tags and a lot of people who've read it said i didn't address the bigger security issues of tags. Well...there are some but it's not quite as scary as you might think.

RFId tags come in two different forms. Active and passive---those that can actively send out messages by themselvs and those that can't.

the range of passive tags, the cheaper of the two, is about 15 feet. this about the range from the the register to the front door. and that's really all these rfid tags are used for.

active tags, on the other hand, can have a range of up to 300 feet. this is used mostly for more advanced applications--like vehicles.

Still the biggest concern when it comes to rfid tags should not be businesses, but other individuals.

More RFID Tag stuff

One more thing about RFID Tags I forgot. They are all based on radio frequency communication and there are 4 kinds to choose from---low frequency (used for animal tags), high frequency (used for people), UHF (used for trucks) and microwave (used for low jack type of applications).

One of the challenges with RFID tags is the lack of global standardization. For instance UHF doesn’t work in many parts of the world---so how can you make sure that the truck you tag in Texas will be accessible in Mexico.

Check out for more info on RFID tag frequencies.

What are RFID Tags?

You know I've had a lot of people at work and at home as me about RFID tags. Do I understand them? Can I explain the logistics of the technology? Many people know it's a receiver-based process but how does the RFID tag initiate?

RFID tags are, quite simply, remote devices embedded into specific items used to store or retrieve information over variable distances. They are ‘engaged’ by the radio signal from the RFID tag reader which prompts the RFID tag to send back information in the form of the tag’s product code---or sometimes even more complex information.

There are two different kinds of RFID tags---active and passive. Passive, as it implies, is an RFID Tag with no internal power supply. This means it needs the juice from the receiver to engage. Active tags, on the other hand, have their own form of power and therefore have to be much larger in size. (The Low Jack Security system on an automobile would fit into this category.)

When the RFID Tag’s antennae picks up electrical current sent to it by the RFID tag reader, it is then prompted to send back a signal. The signal is read by a RFID tag reader and the circle is complete.

Hope that helps with RFID tags—a fascinating form of emerging technology.

For more info:

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