Integrated RFID solutions can provide all the software and hardware needed to develop and keep an electronic chain-of-custody from the crime scene through the courtroom.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been used for many years for many types of applications. If you drive a car less than 20 years old, its key has a small microchip that identifies that specific key as the only one authorized to start your car. Other common uses of the technology include paying tolls without stopping, getting into facilities with only a badge wave, paying for goods with a credit card wave rather than swiping, and retail item theft detection systems.
What is RFID?
RFID is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify individual items, their location, transaction, and time, quickly and easily without human intervention or error. Several methods of identifying objects using RFID exists today, but the most common is to store a serial number that identifies a product, and perhaps other information, on a microchip attached to an antenna, which enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. The combined chip and antenna, commonly called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag, is the core component of an RFID system.
Each RFID tag carries a unique identifier, in addition to having memory up to 64,000 bytes which can be used for client applications. RFID tags are broken into three categories or types, each with its benefits and limitations:
- Active RFID - Long read range, expensive, limited life battery (assists in transmission to reader), active transmitter, optional sensors.
- Passive RFID - Short and medium read range, inexpensive, long life, powered by reader only, and backscatter data “transmission”.
- Battery assisted passive - Similar to passive; slightly longer read range, limited life battery (microchip remains powered from battery).
The reader provides RF power to tags via antennas. They convert the radio waves returned from the RFID tag into digital data that is passed on to computer software for analysis and storage. Major benefits include the ability to read all nearby tags almost simultaneously such as reading tags as they pass by on a conveyor belt or as they pass through a doorway. Readers do not need line-of-sight and can read tags through non-metal walls. In addition, they can be hand-held or stationary and may support multiple antennas. An antenna is a conduit between a tag and reader, which emits and receives radio signals to activate and communicate with tags. Many different forms of antennas exists to accommodate various applications. The Portal System is incorporated to track items as they move in or out of a facility, throughout a facility, or through multiple facilities. Specifically, they are designed to do the following:
- Divide a building into compartments/zones.
- Locate items in evidence storage rooms, between departments, or all entrances/exits.
- Detect the directionality of items moving throughout the facilities.