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RFID Technology - how it works in access control?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID technology makes use of electromagnetic waves to capture and read data. The information is electronically stored on a tag that is attached to an object or the carrier. The tags can be detected from several feet away by the receiver.

RFID technology is popularly employed in access control systems to allow entry of authentic and authorized personnel only. 

RFID technology has application in several areas such as:

  • Identification of personnel
  • Access based security systems
  • Parking facilities including gate control
  • Tracking of consumer goods 

RFID in Access Control Management System

The most common use of RFID is in access control and door entry systems for personnel. The basic principle upon which RFID tags are employed is the identification badge of the workers of any company or industry. The RFID applications for personnel identification uses normally quite low frequency, almost 140 KHz, for badge detection.

Let’s take a deeper dive to understand how RFID technology works in the access control systems. RFID system is composed of the following main components:

  • The RFID Card or Tag
  • The RFID Reader
  • Card Access Management Software
  • Access Control Panel

RFID Card / Tag

The information of person, object or the carrier is electronically stored in the RFID cards/tags. The RFID card/tag can contain only small piece of information such as identification number, price or code.

RFID Door Reader

The RFID reader has an antenna which sends the radio waves to detect any RFID tag or card within its range. This range can vary for the RFID readers depending upon the frequency of emitted radio waves.The RFID reader decodes the uniquely stored information in the RFID card/tag and sends the signal to the host software.

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Software / Infrastructure

The software system reads the signal received from RFID reader and grants or rejects the access of system to the person.

Access Control Panel

Access control panel is not a basic part of RFID system. Access control panel hardware is needed to open the lock or door, when the access is granted to the authorized personnel.

RFID card access control
RFID access control management system

‍Pros and Cons of RFID Technology

Every technology comes with a pro and a flip side. Same goes for the RFID technology. 

RFID technology offer the following benefits:

RFID chips are small enough to be implanted underneath a person’s skin without the possibility of any sort of discomfort. This technology can be used to track fugitives, and store the medical and health data of a person and use it, if required. RFID chips are robust when compared with the bar codes. No fear of wear and tear condition as the RFID card would still be able to send the information. RFID tags can function virtually in any kind of situation or weather.

The cons of RFID technology are discussed below:

There is a possibility that any person with an RFID reader can access the information being broadcasted. There arises a problem of uncertainty and unreliability when dealing with RFID cards and RFID technology. This is because any technology that can create a signal has the probability to be hacked.Usually, the RFID readers have small range. This range can be boosted by using boosters, but the system remains prone to the electromagnetic interference in amidst of electronic equipment.RFID cards are very easily cloned. If someone has a handheld device such that it can read signals being broadcasted then they can clone the information using a transponder.

Pioneers of RFID technology

RFID technology is widely used technology in today’s market. There are many companies that are manufacturers of RFID tags and RFID readers. These companies have a huge monopoly among RFID technology based product vendors. One of the largest manufacturers of UHF (ultra-high frequency) RFID readers is Motorola. Other manufacturers are CAEN RIFD, Impinj, Mojix, Alien Technology, Applied Wireless RFID, and GAO RFID. RFID tag manufacturers include Metal craft I.D. Plates & Labels, wave trend, zebra and many more.

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