In today's world we have a lot of products that go through a lot of distribution centers. We require something that can electronically manage all the products and store data, big data of the products that are going through these centers.
Companies today want this data and it is very hard to manually keep track of every item. Auburn University's RFID Lab conducted research on the use of RFID technology for distribution centers like Walmart, etc. They concluded that RFID technology produces valid and reliable data that can be later used by these companies to optimize their inventory levels, not over stock a certain product, etc. Not only that but, also, the method of delivery of products to different belts at a distribution centre can be controlled with the help of this technology.
But, what is RFID?
Radio Frequency Identification is a wireless system, wherein you have RFID tags that are simple key cards that have a hexadecimal code attached to them. RFID or Radio Frequency Identification tags use electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically-stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader's interrogating radio waves. A radio-frequency identification system uses tags, or labels attached to the objects to be identified. Two-way radio transmitter-receivers called interrogators or readers send a signal to the tag and read its response. When a key card comes near a RFID Reader, a radio frequency signal is sent by the reader with the help of an antenna to the key card/tag. This tag captures this signal and resends another signal with the information stored on the tag which may be anything, in this case it was the hexadecimal code of the tag which is also unique to every tag being used. This particular project uses low frequency tags i.e. 150 kHz of frequency.
Why this project?
The RFID tag can be affixed to an object and used to track and manage inventory, assets, people, etc. For example, it can be affixed to cars, computer equipment, books, mobile phones, etc. RFID offers advantages over manual systems or use of bar codes since it is a wireless system that solely functions on the principle of electromagnetic fields. The tag can be read if passed near a reader, even if it is covered by the object or not visible. The tag can be read inside a case, carton, box or other container, and unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be read hundreds at a time. Bar codes can only be read one at a time using current devices.
Hence, this project allowed me build a prototype of a system that can track and store big data of products passing through anywhere. This data can later be used by data scientists to draw inferences by using machine learning algorithms.
Application of RFID include:
- Tracking of goods,
- Tracking of animals or persons,
- Toll collection or contactless payment,
- Machine readable travel documents,
- Airport baggage management and logistics,
- Tracking and billing processes,
- Timing sporting events, etc.