What is RFID Technology and How Does it Work?

What is RFID Technology and How Does it Work?

by Mike Boehm on February 24, 2023

You may have heard of RFID technology before when encountering door entry cards or access control systems. RFID technology is shorthand for radio frequency identification and is used in all sorts of technology. This article will explain what exactly RFID technology is and how it works.



The most common use of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology is in access control systems involving RFID cards and card readers. RFID technology is what allows door entry cards to ‘talk’ to card readers. Such RFID technology is normally found in the form of a small microchip inside the RFID card. There are different forms of access devices that utilize RFID technology—cards, debit & credit cards, asset tracking stickers, and proximity fobs & tags, just to name a few—all of which use some form of RFID microchip. On the receiving end, the card reader has an antenna inside which receives radio signals from the microchip in the RFID device (be it a card, fob, tag, etc.). Essentially, RFID technology allows such devices to use radiofrequency to send and read information.



In practice, you likely use RFID on a daily basis. If you pay for your groceries by tapping your card on the card reader, you are using RFID technology. When you scan your badge at the front door of a building in order to gain access, you are using RFID technology through a door entry card. Whether you are using a debit card or a company access card, however, the RFID component is essentially the same: In either case, your card stores personal information about you. Once the microchip in your card encounters the antenna in the card reader, it transmits that information to the card reader. The antenna in the card reader then reads the information and makes a decision; the system will either decide that the cards information is valid or invalid. For example, if you have enough money on your debit card to pay for your groceries or if you are an employee at the company whose building you are trying to enter, the access control system will accept the information in your card as valid; if you do not have enough money in your bank account or if you do not in fact work at the company, then the system will reject the card information as invalid. In both scenarios, you are trying to gain access to something. RFID technology is the process of quick evaluation and determination for if you can or cannot have access to that thing. And, as we have seen, this technology can be used and customized in many different ways.