RFID Glossary

This glossary explains terms about contactless identification with RFID.

High Frequency RFID AntennasHigh Frequency RFID ReadersLow Frequency RFID ReadersRFID Tags


Access control
Access control regulates the access of persons in buildings or certain parts of them. RFID is commonly used for this purpose. By means of transponders or tags, persons are granted access to certain areas at certain times.

Agile Reader
RFID reader that is able to operate on more than one frequency.

A global trade organization for automatic identification, data collection and mobile communication with headquarters in Warrendale, PA.

Active Transponder
An RFID transponder with an integrated power supply is called an active tag. It obviously has a larger reading range than a passive tag but is more expensive.

An antenna is part of an RFID system, amplifying and transmitting radio signals from a reader to a transponder and vice versa. An antenna may be a stand-alone component of an RFID system, or integrated in the RFID reader.

Anti-collision is a method of addressing transponders one after the other. The purpose is to avoid collision of data received by a reader if more than one transponder is addressed.

ASC-I1 is a protocol for RFID hardware devised by Brooks Automation.

Auto-ID stands for automatic identification and data acquisition. RFID is such a technology.


Barcode is a standard optoelectronic machine-readable presentation of data consisting of bars of different width. This is an Auto-ID technology.

A beacon is an active RFID tag that activates at set intervals and sends its content.

Bulk detection
Bulk detection means the simultaneous detection of multiple transponders by one reader. This is not possible at all frequencies; see anti-collision.


The International Article Number (originally European Article Number) is a standard method of marking retail goods, and consists of 8 or 13 digits, usually in the form of a barcode.

Electronic article surveillance, a widespread method of preventing theft that works with so-called 1-bit transponders, which only send "present" or "missing" information.

Electronic Product Code is a standard method of marking objects by RFID technology similar to EAN with barcode.

EPCglobal is an organization that leads development worldwide of standards for the use of RFID technology in the supply chain.


Faraday's cage
Faraday's cage was discovered by the English physicist Michael Faraday. The interior of an enclosure formed of conducting material (eg metal) is protected against electromagnetic waves. Metal consequently shields against RFID radiation.

A frequency is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. RFID readers operate at different frequencies, which affects their range for instance.


A gate is a way of implementing an RFID system that is often used to identify goods in the supply chain or detect persons at an event.

A gateway enables devices using different protocols to communicate with one another.

Global Tag is a standardization initiative of the Uniform Code Council (UCC) and the European Article Numbering Association (EAN) for asset tracking and logistics based on RFID.


Handheld Reader   
A portable or mobile RFID reader that Brooks Automation offers with or without a cabled connection.

This abbreviation stands for the frequency band (high frequency) in which 13.56 MHz occurs.


An RFID inlay is a microchip plus antenna deposited on a film. Manufacturers use these as labels or stickers.

Item level tagging means marking goods at item level, eg providing every single yoghurt tub on a pallet with its own RFID transponder.


Just in time


Laundry Tag
A laundry tag is a transponder devised for laundry. Brooks Automation offers a special reader for laundries at

This abbreviation stands for the frequency band (low frequency) in which 125 kHz and 134.2 kHz occur.


Middleware is the software that the data read out by an RFID reader send to a control system.

Mobile Reader
A mobile reader is not firmly integrated in a system and can be carried. It may be cabled or uncabled.
Opposite stationary reader.

The best known forms of modulation are amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM), these also being used in RFID. A useful signal is modulated onto what is called a carrier signal or alters the carrier signal to transmit the useful signal. The useful signal is retrieved at the receiving end by a demodulator. In this way both analog and digitial signals can be transmitted.

A selective switching network in which one input is selected from a defined number of inputs by an analog or digital circuit and connected to a defined output.


Near Field Communication


OEM Module
An OEM module is a small device that is integrated into products, adding RFID functionality to them. Brooks Automation offers OEM modules in the LF and HF bands.

Open loop
Open loop describes a form of RFID circuit in which the transponders leave the circuit and do not remain in the process.


Passive Transponder
An RFID transponder without its own power supply is called a passive tag. It is powered to transmit and memorize by the  pulse from a reader.

A personal digital assistant (PDA) is a small, portable computer with extensive functionality. A PDA can be upgraded to a reader by an RFID card on its standard plug-in slots

POS (point of sale) terminals can be equipped with RFID hardware from Brooks Automation to make them interactive

Production data acquisition

A protocol enables communication between an RFID reader and a transponder, ie it is their common language


see RFID Reader

Reading range
The reading range is the distance at which an RFID reader is able to read the data from a transponder.

Reading rate
The reading rate (in bits or bytes per second) is the maximum speed at which a transponder can be read.

RFID stands for radio frequency identification, contactless reading and writing of a data medium by wireless technology

RFID Hardware
RFID hardware is the overall term for components like readers, antennas and accessories.

RFID Products
see RFID Hardware

RFID Reader
An RFID reader is a device that reads data contactlessly from an information medium and is also able to write into it. It may be stationary or mobile, with different reading and writing ranges.


A mobile RFID reader is sometimes also called a scanner, as in barcode terminology.

Supply Chain Management is the coordination of the procedures within the supply chain from the supplier through to the consumer with the aim of reducing costs and time to deliver

A sensor is a device that is able to convert physical properties, eg of its surroundings, into an electronic signal

Smart Card   
A smart card is a plastic card with an integrated chip. This may be a memory or a processor. RFID technology uses contactless chip cards and reads out their data

Smart Tag   
Smart tag is a name often used for an RFID transponder; see transponder

Stationary reader
A stationary reader is firmly integrated in an infrastructure and cannot be carried from one place to another
Opposite mobile reader


see Transponder

Tagging means marking or identifying something with a tag

Tracking means following the progress of an object, eg a package during consignment or a product during manufacture and warehousing

The word transponder is a combination of trans(mitter) and (res)ponder. It is often called a tag. A transponder consists of a microchip and an antenna integrated in a package like a glass rod or label. Transponders come in different styles and sizes.

Transponder Reader
see RFID Reader


This abbreviation stands for the frequency band (ultra-high frequency) in which 433 MHz and 950 MHz occur (used on different continents).


In a wireless local area network data are transmitted wirelessly according to certain standards