From Active RFID Tag to Payment Systems: The most important terms and definitions.


Active RFID Tag/RFID Transponder
RFID Tags with their own power source are referred to as active RFID tags. This allows for a greater range between the RFID transponder and the RFID reader (up to 500 meters). Additional functions such as temperature monitoring or acceleration measurements are also possible.

RFID Antenna
The RFID antenna is a component of an RFID system. It is necessary for the transmission of radio signals between the RFID reader and the RFID transponder. An RFID antenna can be included as a standalone component in the RFID system (modular) or integrated into the RFID reader (compact device). In RFID LF and RFID HF systems, the RFID antenna is a coil that also provides energy to the RFID tag through inductive coupling.

Multi-Identity Capability
Bulk Detection
Nearly simultaneous detection of multiple RFID transponders by an RFID reader. Due to collision interference, the RFID transponders are not detected exactly at the same time but very quickly one after another.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange
An American standard encoding for information interchange.

A standalone protocol for RFID hardware by Brooks Automation.

Automatic Identification and Data Capture. Auto-ID refers to technologies that automatically identify objects/items. RFID is one of these technologies.


Barcode, 1D Barcode
Script composed of various-width, parallel lines and gaps. In this context, "code" does not refer to encryption but rather to the representation of data (e.g., numbers) as a sequence of bars and gaps that can be easily read by a machine. Barcodes are machine-read using scanners (e.g., lasers) or cameras. A sufficiently large barcode can also be read over several meters.

Unlike the 1D barcode, the information is not presented in a sequence of lines but in flat patterns. This allows more information, including error correction data, to be accommodated per area. There are various types of 2D barcodes, with the QR code being commonly seen on posters, often containing a URL.

Production Data Acquisition
A collective term for the collection of actual data on processes and objects in companies.

RFID tag for ruminants, which is deposited in the rumen and remains there for life (hence the term rumen bolus, plural: boluses). Such an RFID transponder typically operates at a low frequency below 135 kHz, which is also minimally attenuated by the water in the body.


RFID Chip Coins
RFID tags with a round shape like coins. RFID chips can be easily processed by machines. They are used, for example, in public baths and parking garages.

RFID Chip Card
RFID chip cards include all plastic cards that contain an electronic RFID chip. The RFID chip can be a simple logic circuit with memory, but it can also be a microprocessor. RFID chip cards can be read and written with contact (e.g., for money cards) or contactless (e.g., using RFID).

Closed-Loop System
A cycle of RFID tags, for example, within a department, at a location, or in a deposit system. Due to exclusive use within the company, there is no obligation to adhere to open standards.

Contactless Smart Card Technology
Credit card or customer card with RFID technology that can be read wirelessly over a short distance. It can be used for convenient identification because it can be read through the wallet, meaning the card does not need to be taken in hand. This can also be equipped as a convenient door opener. Employees with both hands full do not need to put down objects to electronically identify themselves at a passage.


European Article Number
International article number (formerly European article number). This is an 8 or 13-digit, globally unique machine-readable identification number. EAN can serve as a reference along the entire supply chain from supplier to end customer for the respective internal numbering systems, enabling cross-company communication and control of the flow of goods.
Today, an international organization exists for standardizing globally uniform article numbers for products and services. Over 90 national EAN agencies are authorized to assign these numbers. Renamed from "EAN" to "GS1" since 2005.

EAN International
International organization for the promotion and development of EAN standards. Affiliated worldwide are around 100 national EAN organizations, including "GS1 Germany" (formerly CCG) for Germany.

Electronic Article Surveillance
Electronic article security
Theft protection.
Works with so-called 1-bit transponders. These RFID transponders or RFID labels only provide the information "RFID transponder present" or "RFID transponder not present".

Electrically Eraseable Programmable Read-Only Memory
Electrically erasable programmable read-only memory.
A non-volatile electronic memory component that can typically program and erase itself with its own programming electronics within the component. The component can remain in the circuit. It is the successor to EPROM, which had to be erased with UV light.

Electronic Product Code
Code for marking goods in various variants. In addition to information about the type of product, a unique serial number is provided for each individual item.

EPC Global
Electronic Product Code Global Inc.
An organization that develops global standards for the use of RFID technology along the supply chain. Electronic Product Code (EPC) Global Inc. aims to establish open and standardized RFID systems. EPC Global is a collaboration of various companies and is under the umbrella of the organizations European Product Number International (EAN) and Unifying Code Council (UCC). The goal is the commercialization and administration of the EPC.

A term for an RFID-controlled payment system (E-Purse = electronic wallet).


RFID Flat Antenna
Flat antennas, typically made from a metal plate or foil.

F-RAM (Ferroelectric RAM)
Ferroelectric Random Access Memory

Frequency is the most general meaning (e.g., High-frequency kiosk). Frequency (f) refers to the number of events (n) in a specific time period (T), such as the number of oscillations of a radio signal per second. Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz), sometimes represented as 1/s or s-1. Common radio frequencies for RFID include 125/134.2 kHz, 13.56 MHz, 868/915/927 MHz (EU, US, JP), and 2.45 GHz.


Gateways are used to enable communication between RFID devices using different protocols.

An "RFID GLASS Tag" or stick (also known as a "wedge") is often used in immobilizers.

GS1 Global Standard One
GS1 is the umbrella organization for regional GS1 entities. It emerged in 2004 from EAN International after it merged with UCC in 2003. GS1's mission is to create open, global, cross-enterprise standards and promote their implementation.
See also: EAN
See also: GS1 Germany.

GS1 Germany
GS1 Germany (formerly CCG) is the service and competence center for cross-enterprise business processes in the German consumer goods industry and related sectors. It is a founding member of EAN International, whose standards are used in 129 countries today. GS1 Germany is responsible for the Data and Goods Traffic Standards Committee (NDWK) in DIN.


Handheld/Handheld Computer/Mobile Computer
Mobile computers, usually based on handheld devices, with RFID technology as a plug-in card. Sometimes, a larger dust cover is provided as an antenna cover instead of a plug slot cover. Contrary to stationary RFID readers.

Hands-free refers to applications where the user does not have a free hand to perform certain actions such as opening a door, and thus employs RFID solutions.

High Frequency
High-frequency technology that operates at the RFID frequency of 13.56 MHz.

HITAG is the name for an RFID card system and a brand by Philips.

The term used for a computer that serves as a higher-level system in a computer hierarchy.


International Standardization Organization


Kill Command
Kill Command is a command used to irreversibly deactivate an RFID chip. This is done to prevent RFID chips that are permanently attached to products (e.g., clothing) from continuing to function and be detected after their intended use (goods logistics) and sale.


RFID Laundry Tag
This term refers to an RFID transponder specifically designed for laundry items. These RFID tags are long-term water-resistant. Additionally, there are heat-resistant data carriers suitable for boiling and sterilization.

LEGIC is the name for an RFID card system and a brand by LEGIC Identsystems.

The process of obtaining user data (ID, user memory) from an RFID tag.

See: RFID-Reader

Reading rate
The maximum speed at which data can be read from an RFID transponder. It is commonly expressed in bits or kilobits per second (kbs), indicating serial (one bit at a time) transmission.

Reading range/communication range
This is the maximum distance over which communication between the RFID antenna of an RFID reader/writer and an RFID transponder can effectively occur. The term "communication" implies a dialogue between the RFID reader and RFID tag. The read range can be influenced by factors such as antenna orientation and environmental conditions.

Low Frequency
Low-frequency technology operating at the RFID frequencies of 125 or 134.2 kHz.

Long-Range (English: long distances)
RFID systems that operate over greater distances (> 1 m).


Mobile Data Collection or
Mobile Data Collection Unit, Mobile Data Capture Device
Often referred to as PDA, handheld, or hand scanner.

Mobile Data Storage, a common abbreviation for RFID tags in the German automotive industry.

Mobile Data Terminal
where collected data is stored locally and then transmitted in bulk to a base station. Unlike a wireless terminal, the MDT operates offline, not online.

Software positioned between RFID hardware and user software. Middleware can transport data from various RFID hardware with different communication protocols and provide this service in a unified, hardware-independent interface to the user's software.

Designation for an RFID card system and a brand by Philips. Philips' variant of RFID based on ISO 14443 A.

Miller Code
One of the various codes used for data transmission between RFID transponders and RFID readers.

Miro (also EM4102)
Simple RFID card system using 125 kHz technology.

Modulation Methods
The most well-known modulation methods are Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM), which are also used in RFID technology. In these methods, a user signal is modulated onto a carrier signal, or the user signal alters the carrier signal to enable transmission of the user signal over the carrier signal. Demodulation is performed at the receiver to recover the original signal. This allows for the transmission of both analog and digital signals.

A multiplexer allows multiple antennas to operate on a single RFID reader. The sequence in which the antennas are activated and deactivated can be configured. Generally, two opposing antennas are activated at a time. The use of a multiplexer prevents interference between antennas, reduces the cost of RFID readers required to cover a given area without a multiplexer, and allows the user to reduce the costs of the RFID system.


English: Near Field Communication
RFID systems that operate in the near field. The radius of the near field is determined by the frequency or wavelength used. A loop conductor is surrounded by a magnetic field, which continuously transitions into an electromagnetic field. At a distance of Lambda/2pi, the electromagnetic field begins to separate from the RFID antenna and propagates as an electromagnetic wave in space. Inductive coupling between the RFID reader and RFID transponder is possible up to a distance of Lambda/2pi. This area is referred to as the near field.

Nennreichweite/Nominal Range
The possible reading distance at which reliable reading of an RFID tag is possible.

An object whose barcode or RFID tag could not be read.


An RFID module is an RFID component without its own housing that is installed in other devices, providing them with RFID functionality.


Passiver RFID-Tag/Passiver RFID-Transponder
A passive RFID transponder has no internal power source. The RFID chip in the RFID tag receives its energy from the RFID antenna. In RFID-LF and RFID-HF systems, this energy is transferred inductively (RFID antenna = secondary winding of a transformer). At higher RFID frequencies (RFID-UHF, microwave), the received radio signal is rectified, thereby providing power to the electronics of the RFID tag.

Personal Digital Assistant
Personal Desktop Assistant
This term refers to a portable, handheld mobile computer with an integrated display that offers extensive functionality. It can be upgraded to an RFID reader with an RFID card through standardized expansion card slots. Mobile work can be performed with a wireless network connection.

Polarization describes the orientation of an electromagnetic wave. It distinguishes between linear and circular polarization. Linearly polarized waves can be vertically or horizontally oriented.

The protocol enables communication between an RFID reader and an RFID transponder. It is, in essence, the common language of the two components.

Proximity Card
English: proximity, vicinity
RFID chip cards with a range of 7 to 15 cm according to ISO 14443 and operating at 13.56 MHz. Power is supplied inductively from the alternating field of the RFID reader.
See also: Vicinity


Random Access Memory
Memory that can be read from and written to repeatedly.
Remote coupled (English: remotely coupled)
Transponders that operate at distances of 0.1-1m (opposite: Proximity/Vicinity).

Radio Frequency Identification
Radio-Frequency Identification
Technology for contactless identification of products or individuals using an RFID tag or RFID transponder. Data can be read from or written to an RFID tag without physical contact or line of sight. RFID is an alternative to contactless optical (barcode) or biometric (facial recognition) identification methods.
Unlike optical codes, RFID tags can also be rewritable, meaning the data they contain can be altered. For example, an RFID tag can accompany a product during manufacturing as an electronic work order. At each step of the process, a control computer can retrieve the current status of work progress from the RFID tag's data and decide what further actions are required. RFID allows for decentralized data storage on individual objects.

RFID Blocker
An RFID blocker or blocker tag can prevent or disrupt the reading of RFID transponders.

A passage or entry point where all passing RFID tags are processed.

RFID Hardware
A collective term for RFID components such as RFID readers, RFID antennas, and accessories.

RFID Reader
RFID Reading Device
RFID Read/Write Device
The electronic RFID device that reads data from an RFID tag or writes data to it (if possible). The required RFID antenna can be detached (modular construction) or integrated into the housing (compact device). There are also devices for stationary operation (24 VDC, mains voltage) or as mobile versions (usually expansion cards for handheld PCs).

RFID System
The totality of all components.
The chain of data transmission in an RFID system:

  • Data memory in the RFID tag
  • Antenna in the RFID tag
  • Air interface
  • RFID antenna on the RFID reader
  • RFID reader
  • Firmware/Communication protocol of the RFID reader
  • Driver/Middleware
  • Database
  • User software

Depending on the specific application, not all components may be present or they may be consolidated. In industrial automation, there is usually no middleware and no explicit database (central data storage). Instead, the software in the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) handles both communication with the RFID device and decisions based on data from the RFID tag (decentralized data storage).

RFID Terminal
Device usually located at an identification point where not only the RFID tag is read but also information is displayed or communication with the user occurs. Example: Time clock with a touch screen to select options such as "Clock In/Out" and display the current time.


RFID Scanner
In the RFID field: An electronic RFID device that can transmit and receive radio waves. When combined with a digital signal processor that converts the waves into information bits, the RFID scanner is referred to as an RFID reader.
In the barcode field: A general term for an RFID device that includes a laser scanner. These RFID devices can be stationary or mobile.

RFID Read/Write Device
See: RFID Reader
Writing Speed
The speed at which data is transferred to an RFID tag, written into the memory of this RFID tag, and verified as correct.
The speed is specified as the average number of bits or bytes transferred per second until the transaction is completed.

Writing Range
Writing range refers to the distance an RFID reader can bridge to write data to an RFID transponder.

Supply Chain Management
Coordination of operations within the supply chain from the supplier to the consumer with the aim of keeping costs and delivery times low.
Coordination of all logistical processes and functions within the supply chain from the supplier to the consumer with the goal of short delivery times and low costs.

Semi-Active RFID Tag
Semi-Passive RFID Tag
A semi-active or hybrid RFID transponder has its own power supply that is used exclusively for data retention, not for the transmission process.

RFID device that senses a property of the environment (temperature, pH value, pressure, brightness, flow rate, etc.) and converts it into an electronic signal (electric current, measurement data).

RFID Smart Card
A smart card is an RFID chip card, which is a plastic card with an embedded RFID chip. The cards can contain memory or processor chips. RFID technology uses so-called contactless RFID chip cards, whose data is read without physical contact.

RFID Smart Label
Combination RFID labels printed with a barcode and passive RFID tag. Usually used for 13.56 MHz or 868 MHz. Typically in the form of stickers (RFID labels).

Smart Shelves
Shelves equipped with RFID readers. They are capable of automatically detecting incorrectly placed items. In addition, stock-outs, also known as Out-Of-Stock situations, can be avoided by recognizing the number of items in the shelf. The system can automatically alert an employee when a specific item in the shelf needs to be replenished.

RFID Smart Tag
Term synonymous with RFID tags.

Surface Mounted Device
Surface-mounted components that enable high packing density in electronic circuits.

Memory Card
Reprogrammable RFID tag or RFID tag with read/write capability in the size of a credit card.


RFID Tag/RFID Transponder
RFID tag, English: RFID label, identifier, label(ette)
RFID transponder, English: TRANSceive and resPOND, TRANSmit and resPOND
Other common names include RFID labels, RFID tags, or RFID labels.
Electronic identification mark

RFID Tag-It Transponder
RFID transponders for one-time use, which can be laminated into RFID labels, stickers, and tickets.


(Ultra High Frequency)
Generally, these are radio waves with wavelengths between 1 m and 10 cm, or frequencies from 0.3 GHz to 3 GHz.
Specifically, the frequency ranges of 433 MHz and 866 to 950 MHz are of interest for active and passive RFID tags. Many applications are now active at 2.45 GHz as well: microwaves, WLAN, data radio, and RFID systems.

Unit Tagging
Use of RFID transponders at the cargo carrier level (e.g., pallets). Contrast: Item-Level Tagging.

UPC (Universal Product Code)
This is the North American barcode standard supervised by GS1 (formerly UCC).


Most data transmission by RFID transponders occurs in plaintext. Some models also send information encrypted.

Vicinity Card
English: near vicinity
RFID chip cards with a range of up to one meter according to ISO 15693 and operating at 13.56 MHz. Power is supplied inductively from the alternating field of the RFID reader. The card includes a large antenna coil.


Wireless Local Area Network
Wireless local computer network at 2.45 GHz (ISM band), recently also at 5.15–5.35 GHz and 5.47–5.725 GHz.

Write Once/Read Many
Memory that can only be written once and cannot be changed thereafter. Examples include PROM, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, Blu-ray-ROM.


Access Control
An access control system regulates the access of individuals to buildings or defined areas. In contrast to the classic mechanical key, access can also be detailedly restricted or permitted in terms of time and space using RFID (contactless, wireless) or an RFID chip card. These permissions can be easily changed at any time. This can also be quickly and centrally administered when using RFID readers connected to a control center.

Payment Systems