RFID FAQs

We have tried to answer all the questions you may have regarding RFID technology in these FAQs. However, in case you still need to ask any question that may not have been answered on this page or you need to clarify something, please feel free to write in to us at info@avi-infosys.com.

What is Virtual RFID?
Virtual RFID is a futuristic system, which enables real-time integration and interaction of real life events and individuals with virtual RFID based Social Connect platforms using RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) technology.

What is an RFID tag?
An RFID tag comprises of a small silicon microchip (about half a square millimetre), which is attached to an antenna. Some RFID tags are thin enough to be embedded in paper. An RFID tag is extremely powerful and capable of transmitting a unique serial number to a distance of up to several metres in response to a query from a reading device.

Some instances of RFID tags in common daily use include proximity cards used as replacements for metal door keys, SpeedPass® payment devices, surgically embedded tags in pets for identification purposes, small dashboard plaques for automated toll payment, etc.

What is the price of RFID tags and readers?
The prices of RFID tags and Readers are declining at a rapid pace. The current cost of basic RFID tags in small quantities is about USD $1.50 and it is expected to come down to about USD $0.10. The RFID Readers are expensive at current prices and could cost several thousand dollars each.

What is the read range of RFID tags?
The prices of RFID tags and Readers are declining at a rapid pace. The current cost of basic RFID tags in small quantities is about USD $1.50 and it is expected to come down to about USD $0.10. The RFID Readers are expensive at current prices and could cost several thousand dollars each.

Is there any difference between an RFID tag and a Barcode?
Of course! Primarily, there are two differences between an RFID tag and a Barcode. (a) An RFID tag can be read via radio, i.e., it may be scanned through other objects, and often, does not need to be specially oriented with respect to a reading device. RFID tags can sometimes be read at greater distances than barcodes as well.

(b) A barcode indicates the type of item it is printed on, e.g., a package of tea bags. An RFID tag indicates not only the type of object it is attached to, but also a unique serial number. Thus, an RFID tag can distinguish a given package of tea bags from every other one in the world.

How are RFID tags powered to operate?
The inexpensive RFID tags are passive, i.e., they don’t have any batteries and for power, they rely on the query signal of a reading device itself. However, more expensive RFID tags contain batteries. They are less robust than passive tags, but have greater read ranges and transmission power.

What is the amount of information an RFID tag can store?
An inexpensive RFID tag can store small bits of information (about a few hundred bits). However, the RFID tags contain unique identifiers that can point to a database entry for the tag (similar to a URL), which in turn could be full of information about the read history of the tag. Therefore, indirectly, in a networked environment, a tag can be considered as having loads of associated storage. It has numerous applications, like recording the lifecycle of a product.

I suspect that an RFID tag can reveal my identity by beaming it from my clothes. Are my suspicions justified?
Yes and No! The identity is revealed only if the owner of the reader knows that the serial number emitted by the RFID tag is actually contained in a tag that belongs to you. The actual practice of maintaining huge databases containing such details, and their legality depends on the applicable privacy protection laws. Moreover, not all RFID tags work in this way. For instance, the widely used UHF tags are unreadable when they are near to a human body due to high-water content in the body. Additionally, scanning the RFID-tagged clothes is practically very difficult.

Are smart cards better than proximity cards?
Smart cards offer tremendous benefits over proximity cards, like higher levels of security ensured by encryption keys, ability to write information on smart cards in real time, larger storage memory capacity, and multiple applications support.

What is implied by contact and contactless smart cards?
The difference lies in the mode of data transfer. In a contact card, the chip must physically touch the matching contacts in a card slot on the reader, but in a contactless card, the card only needs to be near the reader, since the data transfer is through radio frequency.

What is ISO?
International Standards Organisation (ISO) is a network of the National Standards Institutes of 148 countries, which acts as a bridging organisation where a consensus is reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society. The widespread adoption of international standards has resulted in more and more number of suppliers basing their development of products and services on the specifications that have wider acceptance in their respective sectors. This has resulted in a larger number of businesses using international standards competing on many more markets around the world.

What are different recognised ISO standards?
1) ISO 14443 Type A (ISO 14443A) contactless card was developed as a memory card. However, microprocessor and cryptographic cards have been developed for Type A. The most common Type A cards are referred to as MIFARE cards.

2) ISO 14443 Type B (ISO 14443B) contactless card was developed as microprocessor version of Type A. Again, the memory and cryptographic options have been developed for Type B, which created competition among Type A and Type B cards. The Type B cards are not as commonly deployed as Type A cards.

3) ISO 15693 vicinity card technology was developed as a result of clamour from the industry for a greater operational distance than ISO 14443 cards with a minimum read range of 10 cm. The data rate, however, is somewhat slower.

How does MIFARE® offer a better option against other smart card technologies?
MIFARE® is a proven, reliable, and robust technology for contactless smart card with 250 million cards in the field. Based on open architecture platform, it is compatible with current and future products.

HID iCLASS®, which is another contactless smart card technology, also supports multiple applications, but its implementation is not as seamless and flexible as MIFARE®. Moreover, the chip and antenna module for both the card and reader can only be purchased through a single source (iCLASS from HID)

What is MAD?
MAD, or MIFARE Application Directory, defines the common data structures for card application directory entries. MAD allows the terminals to identify the right card and the right memory sector within the card without performing a comprehensive search through all the cards’ memories until the appropriate application is found.

What is AID?
AID, or Application Identifier, used by MAD in sector 0x00 (and sector 0x10 if applicable) of the card’s memory. The use of AIDs enables the identification of all registered card applications. The terminal software can then take advantage of this feature using these sector pointers instead of physical sector addresses.

What is the memory size of MIFARE® card?
1K byte (8192 bits)

How many sectors are there in a MIFARE® card?
16 sectors and each sector have 64 bytes (512 bits) of memory and contain 4 blocks with each block containing 16 bytes (128 bits).

What is a smart card serial number? Is it secure?
Each smart card contains an integrated chip with a Unique permanent IDentification (UID) number or Card Serial Number (CSN) burned-in during the manufacturing process. The CSN is not encrypted and any reader that is ISO compliant can read the card serial number.

Is the MIFARE® data secure?
Yes! In Block 3 of each sector, there is a set of 48-bit encryption keys: Key A (READ) and Key B (WRITE). These keys lock the sector data. When presenting the matching READ key, the reader unlocks the sector data and outputs the physical access credential to the panel