RFID glossary

The aim of this glossary is explaining the recurring concepts to those approaching it for the first time.

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Active Transponder (or Active Tags)

To operate, they draw energy from their own power supply, usually consisting of a long-lasting battery. These tags reach the greatest operating distance compared to other types of RFID tags, reaching distances of up to 500m. These tags may also contain sensors to detect parameters such as pressure, temperature and heat.


When regarding RFID tags, antenna refer to the conductive design that allow to activate the microchip, when immersed in an electromagnetic field. When regarding devices, antennas are the hardware element that generates the electromagnetic field when powered up and managed by devices called readers. The electromagnetic field that the antenna generates activates the microchip of the RFID tag, leading to data exchange.


The barcode is an identification technology consisting of a series of high contrast graphic elements; these can be read by devices with a scanning sensor, that decodes and returns the decoded information.

Reading range

Represents the reading area that the reader can cover. Tags outside the reading range cannot be activated by the field generated by the reader, and therefore cannot be identified and read.

Contactless Smart Card

RFID technology can be integrated into credit cards (or any other card), to allow the proximity transmission of information.

DRY Inlay

The DRY inlay is a product composed of antenna with a microchip over a layer of non-adhesive film. It constitutes the product result of the first production process. Depending on the combination achieved, different performances can be obtained for the possible different areas of applications.


Acronym for Electronic Product Code, EPC is the code used to identify individual objects with RFID technology. The EPC code is used to collect important information during the enlivement of goods along the production chain or supply chain.


Acronym for High Frequency, HF are RFID tags that work at 13.56 Mhz frequency. HF is used all over the world and is characterized by a short reading distance (up to 1.20m). Applications can be book management in libraries, costumer care, access control, etc.


Inlay refers to antennas over a substrate of non-adhesive film. It constitutes one of the raw products for RFID tag production. Different designs translate in different performances.

RFID Reader

It is a device - or an apparatus - that allows to read and write information retained in the tag. The reader can have one or more integrated or external antennas, and can be mobile or fixed and have different reading and writing ranges.


Acronym for Low Frequency, low frequency, LF tags work at 125 Khz or 134 Khz. This technology is used worldwide and is characterized by a limited reading range. It can be used for alarms, keys, attendance or access control, traceability of pets and breeding, etc.


It is a line selector that in the RFID sector represents a device that can connect more than one antenna to the same reader, this allows to increase the reading range or simplify the reading of the tag.


Acronym for Near Field Communication, NFC is a RFID technology that works at 13.56MHz and is based on the ISO15693 standard. This technology enables bi-directional data transmission between two devices that up to 1.5m apart. The ability to use NFC directly from the smartphone lead to the further development of this technology and its widespread use.

Passive Transponder (or Passive Tags)

Sono tag che non possiedono una propria fonte di energia ma la ricavano dal campo elettromagnetico generato dal lettore/scrittore. Al passaggio del lettore, la radiofrequenza attiva il microchip interno al tag fornendo l’energia necessaria per operare. Questa energia in fase di lettura sarà riutilizzata per rispondere al lettore modificando il campo in base alle informazioni da trasmettere; in fase di scrittura, invece, permetterà di salvare i dati inviati dal lettore. Questa tipologia di tag è composta da un microchip e da una sola antenna usata sia per la ricezione che per la trasmissione.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID is a technology that is used for the tracking and identification of any type of object or packaging. RFID is based on electronic labels called tags and their capability of storing information regarding the object they are coupled to. Tags respond to remote interrogation by devices called readers.

Reading range

The distance that allows the RFID tag to be read correctly by the reader. Active tags have a much greater read range than passive ones, thanks to their internal power source. The antenna design of the tag can affect the reading ability of the tag.

Smart Label

A smart label contains an RFID tag, it is called smart because it can communicate information about the object on which it is applied.

Transponder (o Tag)

The word 'Transponder' derives from the combination of Transmitter and Responder and represents a wireless communication, monitoring or control device that automatically detects and responds to an input signal. It forms the basis of RFID systems and can be active or passive.


Acronym for Ultra High Frequency, UHF tags work at 868 MHz or 915 MHz, frequencies that are normed in the EPC reference standards. It is used worldwide, although the maximum power and frequency bands are limited and defined by the authorities of the individual countries. Tags of this type reach much greater reading distance than the other types of passive tags, although they have a smaller available memory and therefore only the identification code is used. For these reasons UHF tags are mainly used for retail, logistics, warehouse management, etc.

WET Inlay

The WET inlay is a product composed of antenna with a microchip over a substrate of adhesive film. Once it is die-cut, it is the most basic RFID tags that can be directly used as it is or processed further.