RFID Frequently Asked Questions

What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, an automatic identification technology that uses radio waves to transfer digital information between a tag and reader. An RFID tag is comprised of two parts - an antenna for transmitting and receiving signals, and an RFID chip which stores the tag's ID and other information.

RFID is used in hundreds of applications worldwide and comes in various forms: Low Frequency (LF), High Frequency (HF), and Ultra High Frequency (UHF). HF tags at 13.56 MHz are most commonly used in venues and festivals with a read/write range of just a few inches, high storage capacities, and fast data writing. These advanced capacities make RFID extremely quick and accurate, requiring little-to-no effort on the part of the staff or guests to use effectively.

What are the Key Components of an RFID System?

RFID Systems are comprised of many common elements, and include tags (also known as transponders or inlays), readers, antennas, and application software. However, depending on the requirements of the application, the actual make-up of these components can vary greatly in size, form factor, and cost.

How Does RFID Work?

All RFID systems transmit digital data between a reader and a transponder via radio waves. PDC is focused on passive RFID systems in which an inlay - a combination of microchip and antenna - receives and transmits data only when coupled with a reader and antenna, typically at a range of 5 inches or less. The reader is controlled by a host computer or on-board microprocessor and determines the appropriate read or write operation.

What are PDC Smart® Wristbands?

PDC Smart® Wristbands are PDC's patented line of RFID wristband products, widely used today in leading hospitality and healthcare industries and applications.

PDC Smart® Wristbands contain a securely sealed waterproof RFID tag, which is programmed with a unique alpha-numeric code which can be linked in a host database to the wearer. When the wristbands is scanned by a RFID reader, a low-power radio wave activates the chip to securely collect and transfer data.

PDC Smart® Wristbands replace traditional forms of tickets and access credentials. From cashless point-of-sale, entrance portals, and social media integration, PDC Smart® Wristbands drive a variety of fan-convenience applications with a simple wave of the wristband.

What are the Advantages of RFID Over Barcodes?

Unlike a magnetic strip or barcode, RFID allows for passive data transfer without the need for physical contact or line-of-sight reading. Benefits of RFID include:

  • Since no line-of-sight is needed to communicate between tag and reader, RFID can be used in harsh or dirty environments
  • RFID is a dynamic data carrier. Many RFID devices are read/write capable, which enables updates to the encoded data in the tag. With barcodes, any changes to the data require printing a new barcode.
  • RFID provides increased security over barcodes. With RFID, different levels of security are possible depending on the sensitivity of the data stored or accessed by the RFID tag. Data encryption techniques, secure or private communication protocols, or public/private keys are proven techniques to safeguard the security of an RFID system.
  • The first time read rate of an RFID tag is higher than a barcode, which improves the efficiency of a system. Unlike barcodes, RFID is not sensitive to sunlight, making it the ideal credential for outdoor parks, resorts, and festivals. Also, curvature, especially in a wristband, has minimal impact on reading an RFID tag, whereas curvature in a barcode can render it useless, depending on the symbology or orientation.

Can RFID be Used as a Tracking Device and are There any Associated Health Risks?

Since passive RFID transponders must be closely coupled with a reader to transmit information, the read distance is generally limited to short distances; rendering passive RFID tags impractical for tracking purposes. A passive RFID system may be configured to provide "last known location" based on the last read of the transponder at a specific location, but it cannot provide real-time tracking.

Active UHF transponders use a battery to power the chip's circuitry and broadcast a signal to a reader. Transmission distances can reach 100 feet or more, enabling active systems to track items or people in closed loop environments.

There are no health risks associated with RFID and radio waves, since RFID utilizes the low-end of the electromagnetic spectrum. The waves emitted from readers are no more dangerous than radio waves signaled to your car stereo.

Have more questions? Reach out to our sales team for more information.