RFID made a huge splash when it was introduced to the market a few decades ago, but some people have complained that it has failed to meet those lofty expectations. Initially, there was talk of all retail items being tagged with RFID, RFID readers in the store exit automatically charging your credit cards, etc. Despite Billions of RFID tags being deployed, analysts have called RFID over-hyped. But the Internet of Things has put new air under the wings of RFID. IoT is the intersection of the internet/big data and devices.
When I spoke with the president of RAIN RFID, he adamantly argued that RFID as already connected billions of devices to the internet and is the mostly widely used IoT protocol. At the time, I rebuffed him because my understanding of RFID was limited. It’s mostly used for inventory tagging, and doesn’t send much more data to the internet than a barcode. I thought that calling RFID an IoT protocol when compared against protocols like ZigBee and LoRa was a stretch. I was wrong, it turns out that RFID is a very viable IoT protocol with many uses beyond inventory tags.
RFID works on the UHF radio band (with some exceptions). RFID tags vary in type from passive to active with hybrids of both options, but I don’t need to get into that. RFID range has pushed 15 meters. RAIN RFID, backed by Google and Intel, has put out standards that allow RFID to do much more than send an ID like a barcode. When the tag is energized by the UHF emitter, the tag can energize and check the status of a temperature sensor. That means that a technology that does not require a battery can easily check sensors and send that data to the cloud. That’s an IoT protocol worth talking about.