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Is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology for Indoor Positioning the Best System?

Is RFID Technology Acceptable for Indoor Navigation?

About RFID Positioning Technology

RFID technology has been in existence since the 1980s. If you are familiar with contactless payment which enables payment for an item by tapping a credit or debit card, then you’ve used a form of RFID.

This technology is widely used for electronic identification and RFID positioning and offers substantial advantages for businesses allowing automatic inventory and tracking on the supply chain. It plays a key role in many networks and services.

How RFID Positioning Works

RFID positioning uses radio waves to determine the position or location of RFID tags within an area based on the principles of radio frequency communication and triangulation techniques. There are three types of RFID tags: active, passive and semi-passive. They include a microchip or integrated circuit (IC), an antenna and a protective material layer to hold all components together.

Passive RFID tags are used for navigation since they don’t require an external power source making them easier to implement around a facility. Passive tags are placed throughout a physical space, like a course, to map out a navigation path.

The Components

A RFID tracking system is composed of three different components: RFID tags, readers and servers. RFID uses received signal strength (RSS), angle of arrival (AOA), time of arrival (TOA) and time distance of arrival (TDOA). When used indoors the above methods, excluding RSS, may fail to provide accurate positioning location due to interference with the line of sight to the RFID reader.

RFID is a popular option for indoor positioning because of its simplicity, low cost and effective range.

RFID Positioning Challenges

Challenges users of RFID indoor positioning system face include:

  • The need for additional hardware (RFID tags)
  • Only useful for spot detection
  • Short-range of less than one metre for positioning
  • Requires extensive planning for installation

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Mapsted’s Indoor Positioning System Needs No External Hardware

  • Technical limitations of other indoor navigation technologies can't deliver what Mapsted's patented core technology does – a highly accurate and cost-effective stand-alone indoor positioning system. A VLC positioning system doesn’t even come close.
  • Other indoor positioning systems require expensive external hardware and costly maintenance.
  • Instead of relying on external hardware for location-based needs, Mapsted technology pulls from a huge variety of data sources creating an accurately powerful indoor positioning system.
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Frequently Asked Questions

RFID positioning refers to the use of RFID technology to determine the position or location of objects or assets within a defined area. It involves the deployment of RFID tags and readers to track and identify the position of tagged items. RFID positioning systems leverage radio frequency signals to enable real-time or near-real-time tracking and positioning capabilities.

RFID technology is a wireless communication technology using radio frequency signals to identify and track objects or assets. It consists of RFID tags, RFID readers and a backend system for data management and processing. RFID technology enables automatic identification and data capture without the need for direct contact or line-of-sight communication.

RFID technology itself does not inherently provide precise location detection. RFID systems are primarily designed for identification and tracking of objects or assets rather than accurate positioning. However, there are certain techniques and approaches that can be used to approximate or estimate the location of RFID-tagged items within a defined area. Some of those include proximity-based localization, triangulation, RSSI-based localization and additional sensor integration.

Generally, RFID location tracking tends to provide coarser location information compared to dedicated indoor positioning systems or technologies like Wi-Fi-based systems, Bluetooth beacons, or infrared-based systems. The typical accuracy of RFID location tracking can range from several meters to tens of meters, depending on the factors mentioned above. To put it into perspective, Mapsted’s location-based system has a one metre accuracy.

There are several alternatives to RFID technology for indoor positioning systems, each with its own strengths and suitability depending on specific requirements. A few commonly used alternatives include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ultra-wideband, infrared-based and computer vision-based. The best alternative for an RFID indoor positioning system depends on specific requirements such as accuracy, coverage, infrastructure compatibility, cost and application-specific needs. It's important to evaluate these alternatives based on the specific use case and consider factors like deployment complexity, maintenance, scalability and integration capabilities with existing systems.

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