RFID is an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification, which is a process for transferring data wirelessly. The principle for RFID is similar to bar codes and magnetic stripes on the back of credit cards.
The objects contain an identifier, or "tag" -- just like the bar code on a box of cereal or account information on a magnetic strip of a credit card. An RFID reader is used to extract information from the tag, just like a checkout line bar code scanner or cash register swipe machine for credit cards.
While bar codes and magnetic stripes are inert, an RFID tag emits a signal when a scanning antenna is nearby, in fact the tag is powered by that antenna signal. That means the RFID tag doesn't need a battery to send its signal, allowing it to last for years or possibly even decades.
An example of this is automated toll road readers for drivers with an "EZ Pass" card stuck to their windshield. The RFID card on the windshield doesn't use a battery. Instead, the readers above the traffic lanes are high-speed RFID antennas that power the RFID card to emit its signal when it is in range.
So when a driver with an RFID card passes through the lane, the reader collects that driver's information and bills accordingly.
That toll road examples highlights the value of RFID tags and readers; unique identifiers are passed wirelessly instead of requiring an action such as scanning a bar code or swiping a card.
Another example is if all grocery store items had RFID tags a shopper would only need to push a cart through a scanner and all items are read and tallied at once.
You could bag your groceries as you shop!
This wireless transfer of data is also being used by consumers to make payments. Learn more about how consumers are paying with RFID technology