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How Do RFID Card Readers Work?

rfid reader

Many businesses around the world are now using RFID technology to increase the return on their investments and improve their productivity. Therefore, for any RFID system to work, there have to be three components in place. These include; a scanning antenna, a transceiver, and a transponder. When the scanning antenna and transceiver are combined, they are referred to as an RFID interrogator or reader.


How do RFID card readers work?


RFID readers are network-connected devices that can either be portable (mobile readers) or permanently (fixed readers) attached. They use radio waves to transmit signals that activate the tag. The tag sends a wave back to the antenna, where it is translated into data, once it is activated.

RFID tags read range varies based on the type of reader, the type of tag, RFID frequency, and interference in the surrounding environment or from or from RFID readers and tags. Tags that have a longer read range also have a stronger power source.


RFID card readers can be categorized into 3 types


1) LF reader

LF readers can work with LF cards and LF tags only, with the same frequency of 125 KHz or 134.2 KHz.


2) HF reader

HF readers can work with HF cards and HF tags only, 13,56 MHz. There are 3 different protocols in HF, only when the reader supports the same protocol with the tag /card, they could be compatible.


3) UHF reader

UHF readers can work with UHF cards and UHF tags only, with the same frequency from 840 MHz to 960 MHz. UHF tags could be divided to US standard or EU standard, but UHF readers can read both standards of tags.


The relationship between an RFID card reader and an RFID card


The RFID technology is a method of data collection that automatically identifies objects through radio waves. RFID systems comprise an RFID tag, RFID reader, and antenna. RFID readers are the brain of the RFID system. They are devices that transmit and receive radio waves to communicate with RFID tags.

RFID cards store information on a chip that contains an embedded secure microprocessor. In the plastic body of the card, there is an antenna that is also embedded. RFID induction technology not only powers the card but is also used for communication between the card and the reader. The card is held near the reader as it works over a short-range. Therefore, through the embedded antenna, both the card and the reader will communicate using radio frequencies.

The chip in the card is powered on when the card is brought into the electromagnetic field of the reader. Once it’s on, for data transfer, a wireless communication protocol is initiated and established between the card and the reader.


Are RFID card readers safe?


Different RFID card readers read data from different RFID cards which makes them completely secure. Therefore, to encrypt data in the card, the reader application would be required to have the secret keys for encrypting. If the encryption keys don’t match, the card might block in any attempt to access data on the chip. Also, the communication between the card and the reader can be encrypted.


Advantages of RFID card readers over barcode readers


RFID readers can read tags from a greater distance than barcodes as they don’t need to be positioned in a line of sight with the reader. The reader can also be pre-programmed to read the tag at the time you want it to. RFID readers can read tags at a faster rate than barcodes readers.


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