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RFID stands for "Radio Frequency IDentification". This technology enables an object to be identified, to follow its path and to see its characteristics remotely thanks to a label that emits radio waves and is attached to or incorporated into the object. RFID technology enables several labels to be read, even without a direct line of sight, and may pass through all materials other than water and metal.


The radiofrequency label  (transponder, RFID label), is composed of a chip connected to an antenna, encapsulated in a support (RFID Tag or RFID Label). It is read by a reader which captures and transmits the information.

There are two main families of RFID labels:

  • Active labels, connected to an embedded power source (battery, etc.). Active labels have a better range but come at a higher cost and with a shorter lifetime (this technology is used for remote motorway toll payment in France).
  • Passive labels, which use the energy spread at short distance by the emitter's radio signal. These low-cost labels are generally smaller and have an almost unlimited lifetime. On the other hand, they require a significant quantity of energy from the reader to be able to run.

There are 3 categories of passive RFID tags:

  • Low frequency (125 kHz), used to identify animals (reading on contact)
  • High frequency (13.56 MHz), used for access control and ticketing (reading 10 cm away)
  • Ultra high frequency (868 MHz), used for traceability (reading up to 10m away and 700 tags at the same time when passing through a gantry)

UHF RFID tags are in EPC format (Electronic Product Code), representing "the object traceability network". In particular, this provides for unitary object identification (sequential coding labels) and is attached to an Internet data sharing network. EPC has been driven by major world commerce and information system industry actors. It was developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It is developed and promoted in France by EPC Global France, a spin-off from GS1-France (ex Gencod-Ean France).