Why is RFID Better than Using Bar Codes?

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When Wrigley's chewing gum started using weird parallel lines on the packages of their products which could be scanned and confirm the product's unique identity back in 1974, it opened new gates for retail markets in terms of product identification. Now a rather ubiquitous thing to find, Universal Product Code is a technology which used the barcode scanning system to identify products digitally. 


This eased the process of checking items out of a retail store and determining their expiry date etc. using the information pre-stored on a computer. When the idea of the bar-coding system caught fire, everyone in every corner of the world has benefited by it directly or indirectly. 


The barcode technology enjoyed an un-rivaled success until the coming of the Radio Frequency Identification technology, commonly abbreviated to RFID. RFID systems consist of small tags which because of their small size can be installed to anything and are easy to read independent of any direction or physical obstacle. Because of its utilization of radio frequencies, it has unmatched sensitivity and accuracy. So, is it safe to say that in a death battle of RFID vs. Barcode, RFID will stand guts over glory with barcode's head on a spike?


Barcode tags can only be read one at a time, and that too manually. This means that integrating barcode system will also require you to hire man force to take care of all the transactions; whereas, RFID systems, upon installation, don't need any kind of human interaction for the tags to be identified. They can be identified through layers and layers of different materials. 


Hundreds of RFID tags can be read at the same time without a problem independent of the reader being able to see the tag or not. But in the case of Barcode tags, the scanner has to be directly in the line of sight of the code. An under-experienced person might even take 2-3 attempts to get the scanner to read the tag. RFID is a fully automated system that is able to read, write or modify the data, but barcodes can are read-only systems. 


Most important concern that anybody installing a unique identification system has, is the security of the products. So how secure are these systems really? RFID systems are practically impossible to penetrate by ordinary people. The data can be encrypted and password protected. On the other hand, barcodes are probably the easiest to replicate and trespass any security system. Installation of a kill-switch mechanism is also possible in RFID setups, which make it easier to erase all data for extremely rare scenarios where someone succeeds in infiltrating it.  


After all these points, it is probably evident that RFID systems are way more durable, efficient and accurate as compared to Barcode systems. 

Last update: Sep 15, 2016

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