Explained: What are RFID tags that will be used to track Amarnath pilgrim

What is the News?

After a high-level security review for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, the government has decided to track all pilgrims using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

What is Radio Frequency Identification(RFID)?

RFID is a wireless tracking system that consists of tags and readers.

In this, radio waves are used to communicate information/identity of objects or people to nearby readers – devices that can be hand-held or built into fixed positions like poles or buildings. 

What are the different types of RFIDs?

There are passive and active RFID tags:  

Active RFIDs: They use their own power source, mostly batteries. Active tags can ping information every few seconds like beacons, or they can get activated when a reader is in proximity. 

Passive RFIDs: They are activated through the reader using the electromagnetic energy it transmits. This is enough power for the tag to transmit information back to the reader.

Note: Active tags have a longer read range, around 300 ft, compared to passive tags.

How do RFIDs work?

RFID tags use an integrated circuit and an antenna to communicate with a reader using radio waves at several different frequencies – low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency(UHF). 

The message sent back by the tag in the form of radio waves is translated into data and analyzed by the host computer system. Unlike Barcodes, RFIDs do not require a direct line of sight to identify objects. They also have a bigger range.

Where are RFIDs commonly used?

Retail giants use them for inventory tracking. RFID chips are used as access keys in labs. They are also built into credit cards and library books. FastTags being used for toll payments across the country are also RFID tags.

In the Budget speech this year, the Union Finance Minister spoke about the government’s plan to roll out e-passports. These are likely to be paper passports carrying RFID chips in the jacket. 

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What are RFID tags that will be used to track Amarnath pilgrim” published in Indian Express on 19th May 2022.

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