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Analysis of Barcode and RFID


Key words: Barcode, RFID, traceability

Summary: Difference between Barcode and RFID, and future application analysis.

How does RFID differ from bar code?

Conceptually, bar coding and RFID are quite similar; both are intended to provide rapid and reliable item identification and tracking capabilities. The major differences are as below :

1.       RFID could write, or update the memory content identifying an object. Barcode content cannot be modified.

2.       RFID tags unique identifier cannot be copied, unlike barcode.

3.       RFID label information doesn't have to be visible as information is carried by radio-frequency.

Barcodes, on the other hand, must be very clearly visible, in order to be read.

4.       Because of the low cost of bar code labels, established standards, and global deployment, bar coding is widely accepted while, in general, RFID has been limited to niche applications.

There is unique barcode system today, but there are different RFID standards regarding the way data is captured from tags-the RF communications protocol.

Currently, how does the cost of Smart labels compare to Barcode?

Due to their components, Smart Labels are a lot more costly than Barcodes. Barcodes are only ink on paper, and costs are minimal. The cost of a chipped active tag may be more than US$2, however, a chipped passive tag? Costing around US$ 0.2 (don’t trust it? Contact! ) Chipped tag can provide data storage area, barcode is not practical, only little information.

Why is RFID better than using bar codes?

RFID is not necessarily "better" than bar codes. The two are different technologies and have different applications, which sometimes overlap. The big difference between the two is bar codes are line-of-sight technology. That is, a scanner has to "see" the bar code to read it, which means people usually have to orient the bar code towards a scanner for it to be read. Radio frequency identification, by contrast, doesn’t require line of sight. RFID tags can be read as long as they are within range of a reader. Bar codes have other shortcomings as well. If a label is ripped, soiled or falls off, there is no way to scan the item. And standard bar codes identify only the manufacturer and product, not the unique item. The bar code on one milk carton is the same as every other, making it impossible to identify which one might pass its expiration date first.

Will RFID replace bar codes?

Not for some period of time. Bar codes are well established. RFID will be complementary to the system currently used. The unique attributes of RFID make it an enabler of new applications, especially where the technical fit and operational benefits of the technology make it a better solution than what is in use currently. Bar codes are inexpensive and very effective for certain tasks, so it is probable that RFID and bar codes will coexist for a number of years. However, it is expected that bar codes will ultimately be phased out of the majority of inventory and asset control environments.

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