Tracking Products: Why Barcode is Better Than RFID
October 19, 2015
At Tracker Products, we provide advanced technology to make life simpler and easier for a wide variety of clients, from law enforcement agencies to major multinational corporations.
We offer SAFE as an evidence tracking system designed to expedite criminal investigations. The Tracker team constantly explores new technologies and techniques to see if they may help us better serve our clientele. A current fad in the tracking field is radio frequency identification or RFID. In the following blog, we explain why we aren’t jumping on the RFID bandwagon and describe how our innovative barcode feature could help your business or organization function better.
How Does RFID Work?
A RFID chip is a tiny electronic device (slightly larger than a grain of rice) that contains a unique tag (so it can be recognized with the proper equipment) and an antenna (so it can wirelessly transmit information using electromagnetic waves. Depending on the design of the particular RFID chip, it may or may not also contain a small battery to power it. The chip’s tag can be interpreted when it comes within a certain distance (between 20 and 100 feet) of a RFID reader. Russian inventor Leon Theremin developed RFID technology in order to help the Soviet Union spy on its enemies during the 1940s. Many countries have used RFID tools for espionage over the decades, but this system has only recently become more popular with the general public. Today, RFID chips are used in some retail, transportation, and identification systems, although they remain controversial.
The Benefits of Barcode
Barcode is such a universal element of modern culture that it almost requires no explanation. Like RFID, this tracking technology was developed in the late 1940s, but it quickly gained widespread acceptance. A bar code is simply a visual representation of data involving lines of varying thicknesses and sets of numbers. Special readers can scan and decode this information to identify objects. Barcode offers numerous benefits over RFID for tracking evidence, assets, or other objects:
- Barcode is much less expensive than RFID. Printing a barcode on an adhesive strip is much more affordable than manufacturing a special chip. As WebCheckout Blog explains: “barcodes cost around 0.5c each, can be printed on standard printers, and readers are inexpensive…[RFID] tags cost an average of 15-30c, and systems are more expensive than for barcodes.”
- Barcode scanning is very accurate. Proponents of RFID technology often argue that these tagged chips are more precise, but this simply isn’t true. Adapt a Lift explains: “Barcodes work with the same accuracy on various materials in which they are placed [RFID tags may not function in the presence of liquid or metal]…In many cases, barcode accuracy has been said to be the same or even better than RFID tags.”
- Barcode is easy to use. Anyone who has ever been to a grocery store understands how to use barcode, but RFID identification is more complex. RFID chips are very sensitive—as Technology notes: “some common problems with RFID are reader collision and tag collision. Reader collision occurs when the signals from two or more readers overlap…tag collision occurs when many tags are present in a small area.”
- Barcode does not involve the privacy and security concerns that RFID does. One of the supposed advantages of RFID is that the tags can be read without a direct line of sight and at a significant distance, but this feature brings up significant privacy and security issues. Police departments and companies that are tracking sensitive information do not want anyone within 100 feet of their tags to be able to read them.
How Tracker Uses Barcode
One of the hallmarks of our SAFE tracking software is its barcode system. You can assign each item and log a distinctive bar code so it can be easily scanned and tracked. This makes for simpler, more convenient evidence organization, asset management, and e-discovery.
Test it Out For Yourself
To experience our barcode functionality for yourself, start with your free version of SAFE today.