RFID Glossary of Terms.

August '99 Asset Management, EAS, RFID

Active RFID tags - Battery operated tags. These tags can transmit over the greatest distances, and have corresponding higher prices. Active tags will most likely be used in RFID tracking of pallets, trucks and other large containers of goods.

Active merchandising - Use of multimedia merchandising clips to promote and demonstrate merchandise in a retail environment. RFID chips embedded in products can be used to automatically trigger active merchandising programs.

ADC: Automated data collection - Technologies that automate data collection at the source include bar code, biometrics, machine vision, magnetic stripe, optical card readers, voice recognition, smartcards, and radio frequency identification (RFID).

AIM, The Automatic Identification Manufacturers - a manufacturers trade association. For more information on RFID technologies, contact AIM at its website http://www.rfid.org.

Antenna - a structure in an RFID system that may be used to both transmit and receive data via energy from radio waves at a specific frequency (ie 2450 MHz).

Anti-collision protocol - A feature of more advanced RFID systems that enables a batch of tags to be read at the same time. This feature pertains to RFID scanning of a 'basket of goods' that would include many tagged items. The anti-collision feature prevents individual tags from being read more than one time during a transaction.

Batch reading - The process or capability of an RFID reader/interrogator to read a number of tags present within the system's interrogation field at the same time.

Bits - A binary code '0' or '1'. Many different codes can be developed to represent pertinent information. When scanned, code 001100 may call up store code, SKU code, shipping date or manufacturing lot.

Bytes - 8 bits = 1 byte. One byte is needed to generate an alpha letter. Bits and bytes always increase in multiples of eight (ie 64, 128, 240, 256, 512).

Collision - An event in which two or more RFID tags compete for attention from the reader at the same time and cause a clash of data, which cannot be separated without some means of anti-collision management.

Consumer unit tags - Refers to RFID tags placed on individual products, as opposed to case, pallet and container tagging. Consumer units will be tagged with passive read/write RFID tags.

Counterfeiting - Production of 'knock off' goods that carry brand name logos, etc. RFID can serve as an anti-counterfeiting tool when special codes are written to the chips to prove product authenticity.

Data encryption - A means of securing data by converting it to a form that is unintelligible in the absence of an appropriate decryption key.

Data field - A defined area of memory on a tag assigned to a particular item or items of data.

Distributed unit tags - Refers to RFID tags affixed to pallets of merchandise, or other packing configurations in which products are distributed. Distributed unit RFID tags may be passive or active depending on distance and speed transmission requirements.

Diversion - Sale of goods by a wholesaler through non-approved channels with pricing below manufacturer recommendations. RFID will prevent product diversion by enabling manufacturers to track flow of merchandise through the distribution process.

Electronic receipt - Electronic storage of retail transaction information through RFID, rather than on paper receipts. With electronic receipts, customers would not need to keep paper records of product purchases. Customer name and address, product price, date of purchase, store location, and other pertinent data would permanently reside with the product itself. This feature of RFID will also help retailers address returns fraud, since sales history could be scanned for all returns.

Frequency - In radio frequency, the number of cycles completed by a radio wave in a given period of time. Frequency is usually expressed in hertz (cycles per second) or appropriate weighted units such as kilohertz (kHz), Megahertz (MHz), and Gigahertz (GHz).

Intermec - One of the leaders in the bar code auto data capture industry. Intermec is partnering with Sensormatic to jointly develop, produce, and market smartEAS systems. To learn more about Intermec Technologies Corporation and its products, contact http://www.intermec.com.

Interrogation - The process of communicating with and reading an RFID tag.

Interrogation field - The radio frequency field in which a tag or group of tags can be effectively read by an associated RFID reader.

Interrogators - Readers of RFID tags. RFID interrogators can be built into retailer receiving areas, at the point of sale, or at the store exit.

Line-of-sight - Unlike bar codes, RFID tags can be read 'through' merchandise and packaging, without requiring scanners to see the tags (ie no line-of-sight required).

Logistics - The tracking and movement of raw materials to finished products and consumption throughout the supply chain.

Multiple tag read/write - Refers to the ability of RFID systems to read multiple tags at the same time. Current technologies enable reading of up to 40 tags per second. Reading and writing of multiple tags is achieved through the anti-collision feature of RFID.

Omnidirectional - A description of an RFID tag's ability to be read in any orientation.

Open systems - Within the context of RFID, systems in which data handling, including capture, storage, and communication is determined by agreed standards, thus allowing various and different users to operate without reference to a central control facility.

Passive RFID tags - Nonbattery-operated tags. These tags can transmit information over shorter distances than active tags, have a variety of memory capacities depending on the tag (64 to 1024 bits).

Protocol - A set of rules governing the flow of data/information between a reader/interrogator and a tag or batch of tags in an RFID system.

Proximity activation - A term describing the distance of a tag from a reader at which the tag will be activated and will receive or transmit data.

Read only tags - RFID tags that have permanently encoded information that can be interrogated by RFID scanners. Information cannot be added to read only tags.

Read range - The maximum distance between the antenna of a reader/interrogator and an RFID tag over which data transmission can be effectively performed. The distance will be influenced by orientation and angle with respect to the antenna, and possibly by environmental interference.

Read rate - The maximum rate at which data can be transmitted between a tag and its RFID reader/interrogator, usually expressed in bits per second.

Read/write tags - RFID chips that can be read by interrogators and written to by RFID encoders. Read/write tags can accept data at various points along the supply chain, including addition of transaction data at the retail point of sale.

Reverse flow logistics - Flow of merchandise from the retailer back to the supplier (returns). Adding RFID tracking capabilities to reverse flow logistics will provide retailers and manufacturers with quicker, more accurate transactions.

RFID system - An automatic identification and data capture system comprised of one or more reader/interrogators and one or more RFID tags. In this system data transfer is achieved by means of radio frequency signals.

Scanner - The combination of antenna, transmitter, and receiver into a single unit. With the addition of electronics to perform the necessary decoding and management functions to deliver the data, the unit becomes a reader.

SensorID - a product company within Sensormatic Electronics Corporation which, in alliance with Intermec Technologies Corporation, will develop, produce, and market smartEAS systems.

Shipping unit tags - Refers to RFID tags affixed to trucks, ships, planes, or other carriers of goods. Shipping unit tags are active (battery-operated), so tags can be read over extremely long distances (Example: tracking truck movement via satellite).

Source integration - Embedding of RFID/EAS tags directly into products themselves, versus on/in the packaging. Source integration is also referred to as Phase III source tagging. Source integration is an important element of RFID, since the tags will be embedded in products themselves to track product, sales, warranty and service histories.

Spread spectrum band - A radio frequency band available for unlicensed use. Spread spectrum technology was developed for the military; it has a high immunity to environmental interference and provides robust data transfer.

Traded unit tags - Refers to RFID tags placed on cases or master cartons of products (ie products packaged in quantities in which they are traded between retailers and suppliers).

Tags - The common name for a transponder (transmitter/responder unit).

WORM - A tag that can be part or totally programmed once by the user, and thereafter only read.

13,56 MHz - The radio frequency at which some passive tags will operate to perform RFID applications.

2450 MHz (2,45 GHz) - The radio frequency at which smartEAS tags will operate. These tags are part of the Intellitag 500 Series produced by Intermec Technologies, based on research done at the IBM Watson Research Lab. The tags possess a unique anti-collision protocol and a data transmission speed that enables batch reading/writing to the tags at a rate up of to 40 tags per second. 2450 MHz is an ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) spread spectrum band.

Source: Sensormatic

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