Demystifying Mysterious Things

Radio-frequency Identification (RFID)

Electronically store information on objects using electromagnetic fields so the object can be identified and tracked on RFID tags. There are two main types of RFID tags: active and passive tags. Active tags have their own power source, while passive tags borrow the energy from nearby RFID readers. A major advantage of RFID over other tag technologies is RFID tags don't need to be in the direct line of sight of the reader.

Key Fobs

Remote keyless entry fobs emit a radio frequency with a designated, distinct digital identity code that can be used to unlock car doors.


RFID tags are in your car's EZ-Pass. When you zip through the EZ-Pass lane on a highway, the tag is read by a reader so you don't have to stop and pay at the toll.

Read time

The read time of an RFID tag is typically less than 100 milliseconds. It is even possible to read a large numbers of tags at the same time.

Fun facts

Facts about keyless entry and RFID.


World RFID market in 2014


Expected market value by 2026


The price of passive tags with 1-12m range is as little as 15 cents


Price of active tags with 1-2m range

"Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable."

William Pollard

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Creative uses for RFID tags and other similar technologies have been used

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  • Pets - when your animal gets lost their RFID tags can be read to find their owner.
  • Money - scan money to prevent counterfeiting.
  • Supply Chain - RFIDs are used on assembly lines to track how products move through production
  • Toll passes - RFIDs make it possible to move through the fast lane
  • Races - place an RFID tag on racers shoes can give an accurate time during races
  • People - even people can be embedded with RFID tags!

More Facts

Additional information about radio frequency and RFID tags.

Did you know...

  • -75 degrees: Some RFID tags can accurately be read at under -75 degrees fahrenheit.
  • RFID tags were initially invented by a Soviet spy
  • Disney: Next time you head to Disneyworld, you will likely be using RFID to open your hotel room, pay for food, and receive pictures of all the fun you had at the happiest place on earth!
  • A company called Nutrismart has created edible RFID tags. The idea is to let people see exact nutritional numbers of what they eat. Literally putting data into the food you eat
  • Passive RFID tags can be read from as far as 300 feet away
  • The smallest RFID tag is manufactured by Hitachi. It is .01 inches square.
  • In order for RFID to replace barcodes they need to cost less than 1 cent to make. Currently the cheapest RFID is about 10 cents.