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Active RFID – Definition & Overview

Active RFID – Definition & Overview


Active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a wireless, automatic identification method using self-powered tags to broadcast information about its identity & location. The battery powers the RFID circuit board and facilitates the active RFID tag to transmit identifying information by unceasingly beaconing to a tag reader or when prompted by a reader.

Moreover, depending on the frequency levels, an active tag can unceasingly transmit signals to an RFID reader 150 meters away. Consequently, an active RFID tag is popular among businesses desiring to track assets and build an accurate real-time location system (RTLS).

Methodology of Active RFID Tags:

Active RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tags are battery-powered devices that transmit radio signals regularly. These tags work by releasing a unique identifier, often in response to a reader’s probe.

The reader generally emits a signal to power the tag and request data. When the active RFID tag receives this signal, it stimulates and generates its response and transmits it to the reader. This response usually includes the tag’s ID and possibly other data.

The reader captures and processes the signal, allowing the user to identify, locate, or monitor tagged objects or assets. The common use of active RFID tags is to determine real-time tracking & monitoring of high-value assets, such as vehicles, containers, and personnel.

When to use an Active RFID System?

An Active RFID system is used for real-time tracking and monitoring of high-value assets or personnel. It is excellent for scenarios where constant and accurate location information is critical, such as supply chain and logistics, healthcare (for patient and equipment tracking), and security applications.

Furthermore, these systems are valuable for situations requiring dynamic data. They often offer longer read ranges than passive RFID systems, making them well-suited for outdoor environments and situations where assets are frequently moving.

  • Vehicle tolling
  • Real-time location tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Asset management

Key Points of Active RFID Tags Include:

  • They’re battery-powered tags that unceasingly transmit signals.
  • They are generally used to transmit data in real time.
  • Respectively, they have a signal range of up to 150 meters.
  • They’re more expensive than passive RFID tags.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Active RFID Tags:


  1. Longer Range: Such tags typically have a more extended read range than passive RFID tags, allowing for tracking over larger areas.
  2. Real-Time Tracking: Active RFID tags provide real-time location information, making them suitable for tracking assets or personnel as they move.
  3. Versatility: They are suitable for various applications, including supply chain management, healthcare, and security.
  4. Battery-Powered: The battery in these tags provides a more robust and consistent power source, reducing the risk of signal loss.
  5. Greater Data Capacity: These tags can store more data, allowing for additional information beyond an ID.


  1. Cost: These tags are much expensive than passive tags in terms of the tag itself and the associated infrastructure.
  2. Maintenance: The need for battery replacement in active tags can lead to higher maintenance costs and downtime.
  3. Complexity: This systems are generally more complex to set up and maintain, requiring specialized expertise.
  4. Size and Weight: Active tags are inclined to be larger and heavier, making them less suitable for specific applications.
  5. Limited Interoperability: This systems may not be as standardized or interoperable as passive RFID, potentially leading to compatibility issues.


In conclusion, Active RFID technology offers diverse advantages in applications where real-time tracking and longer-range monitoring of assets or personnel is crucial. These tags are well-suited for use cases like supply chain management, healthcare, and security, providing accurate and up-to-the-minute location information.

Batteries ensure consistent signal strength and data transmission, enhancing reliability. However, these tags come with higher costs, including the tags’ price, maintenance, and battery replacement.

Additionally, the systems are more complex to set up and require specialized expertise, and integration concerns can arise due to a lack of standardization. It offers valuable tracking and monitoring capabilities when the advantages align with specific needs.

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