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RFID and Barcode Glossary
Active Tags
Tags that use batteries as a partial or complete source of power to boost the effective operating range of the tag and to offer additional features over passive tags, such as temperature sensing.

Alignment
The orientation of the tag in relationship to the reader.

Antenna
A device that conducts electromagnetic energy. In RFID, an antenna radiates energy in the radio frequency spectrum to and from the RFID tag.

Auto-ID Center
A non-profit organization which led the development of a global network for tracking goods academia, that pioneered the development of an Internet-like infrastructure for using RFID to track goods globally.

Automatic Identification
The broad term which encompasses bar coding, RFID, and other electronic technologies that electronically identify and track goods.

 

 

 
Bar Code
A standard method of identifying items based on lines of varying widths and spacing that are visually read by a scanner. The UPC bar code standard provides a way of identifying manufacturers and product categories. Other types of bar codes are used for shipping and other kinds of item identification. See also Scanner and Universal Product Code (UPC). GS1 approved barcodes.

Bidirectional
In RFID, a tag that can be read or written from either side.

 

 

 
Capacity
The amount of information that can be programmed into a tag. This may represent the bits accessible to the user or the total number including those reserved to the manufacturer e.g. parity or control bits.

CODABAR - A barcode symbol in which four bars and three spaces are used to represent 0 through 9 and certain special characters. This code is characterizied by four unique start/stop codes.

CODE 128 (UCC/EAN)
This is the recommended symbology for most industrial applications today. The UCC and EAN (see GS1) have set standards for barcodes using this symbology. The three different subsets (A,B & C) within UCC/EAN Code 128 allow this symbology to encode all 128 ASCII characters.

CODE 39
This barcode symbology is capable of encoding all numeric characters, upper and lower case letters, plus several special characters. It is used by AIAG, HIBC, and in many proprietary industrial applications.

Controller
See Multiplexer

 

 

 
Data Transfer Rate
The rate at which data are transferred between the reader and a tag, generally measured in bits per second (bps).

 

 

 
EAN International
The international organization responsible for administering bar code standards.

Electronic Product Code (EPC)
An identification standard created by the Auto-ID Center that provides additional information to existing bar codes. The EPC can identify manufacturers, product categories, and individual items. See also Auto-ID Center and Bar Code.

EPC Discovery Service
A service from the EPCglobal Network that allows companies to search for every reader that has read a particular EPC tag. See also EPCglobal.

EPC Information Service
A network infrastructure of the EPC Network that allows companies to store EPC data in secure databases on the Web. Companies can set the level of information access for different types of organizations, from supply chain providers to manufacturers, to everyone.

EPCglobal
A non-profit organization with the mission of commercializing EPC technology. The Uniform Code Council and EAN International, which set and maintain bar code standards in North America and internationally, set up EPCglobal.

EPCglobal Network (or EPC Network)
The Internet-based technologies and services designed for EPCs.

Error Rate
The number of errors divided by the number of transactions.

European Article Numbering (EAN)
The bar code standard used throughout Europe, Asia, and South America, administered by EAN International.

 

 

 
Factory Programming
The manufacturer’s setting on a read-only tag or chip or peripheral device.

Field Programming
The programming of information into a tag after shipment by the manufacturer, either by an OEM customer or end user. Field programming is often related to the tag’s target application.

Firmware
Start up and input-output instructions “burned onto” a chip in RFID-enabled printers and other devices.

Flat Panel Antenna
Flat antennas that are generally made of metal plate or foil and embedded in a label or other material.

 

 

 
GS1
Standards setting organization responsible for barcode and RFID standards.  Formerly Uniform Code Council (UPC) / International Article Numbering (EAN) organizations.

GS1 Databar
This is a single barcode which is composed of both linear and 2D barcodes.  This symbol, formerly named RSS (Reduced Space Symbology), is now called GS1 DataBar.

 

 

 
High Frequency Tags
RFID systems that operate at 13.56 MHz with a typical maximum read range of up to 3 feet (1 meter).

 

 

 
I 2/5
Interleaved 2 of 5 is named for the 2 wide bars in every group of 5. It is the ideal symbol for printing directly onto shipping containers.

Inlay
RFID hardware mounted on label material. Inlays provide the RFID portion of “smart labels”. See also Smart Label.

 

 

 
J
No terms beginning with this letter are listed in this glossary.

 

 

 
K
No terms beginning with this letter are listed in this glossary.

 

 

 
License Plate
A term that denotes a simple RFID technique that carries only a serial number on tags. The serial number is associated with information in a database.

Low Frequency Tags
RFID systems that operate at about 125 kHz with a typical maximum read range of up to 20 inches (508 mm).

 

 

 
Misread
A mismatch between data as read by the reader and the data programmed on the corresponding tag.

Multiplexer
An electronic device used to support multiple scanners or antennas. Multiplexers essentially manage RFID traffic. Sometimes spelled “multiplexor".

Multiread
The ability of a reader or other RFID device to read many individual tags at the same time.

 

 

 
Nominal
The optimal level of operation for a system.

Nominal Range
The normal range at which a system can operate reliably, under normal conditions.

 

 

 
Orientation
Placement of a tag in relationship to the reader or scanner.

 

 

 
Passive Tags
The most common RFID tags, in which a reader transmits an energy field that “wakes up” the tag and provides the power for the tag to operate.

PDF 417
A 2 dimensional barcode symbology developed in 1989. Over 1800 alphanumeric characters or over 2700 numeric digits can be encoded in a single PDF417 barcode. It can be scanned using any scanning technology except wands. Up to 900 characters can be encoded per square inch. The Department of Defense has recently (late 1996) declared PDF417 its "official 2-D symbology".

Penetration
Refers to the ability of a particular radio frequency to pass through packaging and other materials.

Power Levels
A measure of the amount of RF energy radiated from a reader or active tag, usually measured in volts/meter.

Printer/Encoder
The device used to generate smart labels. They both print bar-coded labels and encode RFID tags embedded in the labels. See also Smart Label.

Programmability
The ability to enter and store data into a tag.

Programming
Adding information to or changing information stored in a tag.

 

 

 
Q
No terms beginning with this letter are listed in this glossary.

 

 

 
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
A method of transmitting information using radio waves. RFID systems typically consist of a tag that contains information identifying an item or specifying a condition or state. A reader communicates with the tag and reads the information programmed into its memory.

Range
The distance at which a tag can be successfully read or written to by the reader.

Read
The process of retrieving the information stored on an RFID tag.

Read Only
See Factory Programming.

Read Range
The distance from which a reader can communicate with a tag.

Read Rate
The maximum rate at which data can be read from a tag, generally expressed in bits per second (bps).

Read/Write
Refers to tags that can receive new data while they are attached to product, such as tags that store a record of shipment information.

Readability
Refers to the ability of a reader to obtain data from a tag, generally under difficult conditions.

Reader
The device that retrieves information from tags using radio waves. Readers generally receive data from tags and transmit data to host computers or peripheral devices, such as a printer.

Reader/Writer
A device that can both retrieve information from a tag and write information to a tag.

 

 

 
Scanner
A device that reads bar codes.

Sensor
A device that produces an electronic signal in response to something in the environment.

Separation
Refers to the distance between two tags or the distance between a tag and a reader.

Smart Label
Refers to a label that usually contains both a traditional bar code and an RFID tag. As bar codes are printed on smart labels, information is also encoded into the RFID tag by the printer.

 

 

 
Tag
A combination of a microchip and antenna that can be programmed with information to identify items and transmit that information to a receiver. Some tags can also receive new information, such as location information during shipment.

Transponder
See Tag

 

 

 
Ultra-High Frequency Tags
RFID systems that operate at multiple frequencies, including 868 MHz (in Europe), a band centered at 915 MHz, and 2.45 GHz (microwave). Read range is typically 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 meters), but systems operating in the 915 MHz band may achieve read ranges of 20 feet (6 meters) or more.

Uniform Code Council (UCC)
The organization in the United States that sets and maintains the Universal Product Code (UPC) bar code standard. See GS1

Universal Product Code (UPC)
The barcode standard used in North America. See also Uniform Code Council.

 

 

 
V
No terms beginning with this letter are listed in this glossary.

 

 

 
Write
The transfer and, generally, verification of data to a tag.

Write Rate
The rate at which information is transferred to a tag, written into memory and verified.

 

 

 
XML
eXtensible Markup Language (XML): A widely accepted way of sharing information over the Internet in a standard, generic way.
 

 

 

 
Y
No terms beginning with this letter are listed in this glossary

 

 

 
Z
No terms beginning with this letter are listed in this glossary.