Tag Archives: RFID

The Future of Indoor GPS Part 4: Read the Room with RFID Tags

RFID-Industry-Predicts

In the previous installment of our blog series on indoor positioning, we explored the future of Ultra Wideband technology. This week, we will examine RFID Tags.

The earliest applications of RFID tags date back to World War II when they were used to identify nearby planes as friends or foes. Since then, RFID technology has evolved to become one of the most cost-effective and easy to maintenance indoor positioning technologies on the market.

WHAT IS RFID?

rfid_works

RFID refers to a wireless system with two components: tags and readers. The reader is a device with one or more antennae emitting radio waves and receiving signals back from the RFID tag.

RFID tags are attached to assets like product inventory. RFID Readers enable users to automatically track and identify inventory and assets without a direct line of sight with a read range between a few centimeters and over 20 meters. They can contain a wide range of information, from merely a serial number to several pages of data. Readers can be mobile and carried by hand, mounted or embedded into the architecture of a room.

RFID tags use radio waves to communicate with nearby readers and can be passive or active. Passive tags are powered by the reader, do not require a battery,  and have a read range of Near Contact – 25 Meters. Active tags require batteries and have an increased read range of 30 – 100+ Meters.

WHAT DOES RFID DO?

RFID is one of the most cost-effective and efficient location technologies. RFID chips are incredibly small—they can be placed underneath the skin without much discomfort to the host. For this reason, RFID tags are commonly used for pet identification.

Image via Hopeland

Image via Hopeland

One of the most widespread uses of RFID is in inventory management. When a unique tag is placed on each product, RFID tags offer instant updates on the total number of items within a warehouse or shop. In addition, it can offer a full database of information updated in real time.

RFID has also found several use cases in indoor positioning. For example, it can identify patients and medical equipment in hospitals using several readers spaced out in the building. The readers each identify their relative position to the tag to determine its location within the building. Supermarkets similarly use RFID to track products, shopping carts, and more.

RFID has found a wide variety of use cases, including:

WHAT ARE THE CONS OF USING RFID?

Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing businesses looking to adopt RFID for inventory tracking is pricing. RFID tags are significantly more expensive than bar codes, which can store some of the same data and offer similar functionality. At about $0.09, passive RFID tags are less expensive than active RFID tags, which can run from $25-$50. The cost of active RFID tags causes many businesses to only use them for high-inventory items.

RFID tags are also vulnerable to viruses, as is any technology that creates a broadcast signal. Encrypted data can help provide an extra level of security; however, security concerns still often prevents larger enterprises from utilizing them on the most high-end merchandise.

OVERALL

RFID tags are one of the elite technologies for offering inventory management with indoor positioning. Although UWB and Bluetooth BLE beacons offer more precise and battery-efficient location services, RFID is evolving to become more energy and cost efficient.

Stay tuned for the next entry in our Indoor Positioning blog series which will explore AR applications in indoor positioning!

The Future of Indoor GPS Part 1: Top Indoor Positioning Technologies

background-hand-social

GPS can help you get from A to B, but what can it do to enhance your indoor retail experience?  Over the next several entries, the Mystic Media Blog will endeavor on a five-part deep dive into the top indoor location technologies and how they will help form the retail experience of the future.

GPS has become ingrained in our everyday lives. Zoomers will never know of a world without GPS, the world of Mapquest and just plain old maps.

While Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps can take you from your home to your favorite retailer, finding your way around large stores remains difficult. As a business owner, you want to make the act of navigating the store as easy as possible so that your customers have a positive experience finding what they want. Indoor GPS can solve that problem.

In the past five years, indoor positioning has blown up. The global market for indoor location technology is projected to hit $40.99 billion by 2022, a significant increase from $5.22 billion in 2016. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 42%. With $2.4 billion anticipated in annual spending on beacons and asset tracking by the end of 2020, IPS or Indoor Positioning Systems are here to stay.

Here are the top IPS technologies in use today:

Bluetooth-5.1-Beacon

BLE 5.1 BEACONS

Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons are tiny battery powered devices that can connect to bluetooth-enabled devices like smartphones.

When it comes to indoor positioning, the more precise the positioning, the larger the investment required to achieve it. Bluetooth Low Energy beacons have become a technology stack because they require relatively inexpensive hardware to achieve an accuracy of up to 1-3 meters. BLE 5.1 beacons have improved upon that, providing 1-10 centimeters of accuracy with minimal lag.

BLE is extremely power efficient and cost-effective, minimally draining a phone’s battery  when connected, and can be used within WiFi access points or lighting infrastructure. Since they infrequently require maintenance, they are often used in high-traffic venues.

Locatify-UWB-Ultrawideband-RTLS

ULTRA-WIDEBAND (UWB)

Ultra-wideband (UWB) is a radio technology utilizing low power consumption for a high-bandwidth connection. UWB has extremely precise locating abilities, dialing in to locate objects within one centimeter.

In September 2019, Apple announced the iPhone 11 includes a “U1” chip with UWB technology; however, UWB technology is currently not widely available. Many consider it to be the future of indoor positioning technology, but the lack of existing infrastructure will likely delay mass adoption. Regardless, for applications like warehouse tracking where ultra-precise positioning is required, UWB is an ideal solution.

RFID

RFID TAGS

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is a simple technology with a tag and a reader. The reader extracts data from the tag using radio-frequency electromagnetic field and identifies the object the tag is attached to.

Although RFID is often used in combination with other technologies for more precise indoor location, the market for RFID is gradually increasing. It’s currently slated for growth in the apparel and shoes space, with great potential in other markets such as healthcare and automotive.

augmented-reality-indoor-navigation-development

AR-BASED NAVIGATION

Indoor navigation utilizing Augmented Reality technologies can do more than just help you navigate a store, it can totally revolutionize the retail experience.  AR can create virtual paths and arrows to help navigate the store. For businesses, AR can improve internal processes by making it easier for staff to navigate offices and warehouses.

This technology is enabled by placing visual markers which can be scanned by the users using their mobile device’s camera. The phone will then guide the user through the retail experience and can be customized to help them find what they need.

In May 2019, the number of AR-enabled devices around the world reached 1.05 billion. Apple and Google are actively working on improving ARKit and ARCore, their AR software development frameworks. Beyond simply helping customers and staff navigate stores, AR will pave the way for personalized shopping experiences unlike any we’ve seen before.

CONCLUSION

While BLE Beacons are currently the leader in the marketplace, many technologies are competing to pioneer the most advanced and accurate indoor location technologies. Given the countless applications, the future is looking bright for indoor location applications! Tune into our next indoor positioning blog when we take a deep dive into BLE 5.1 beacons.