Active RFID tags refer to RFID tags (transmitters) which have their own power source, so they can receive a weaker signal from the RFID reader, and the power source on the tag boosts the return signal. These types can have ranges of many tens of meters and even hundreds of meters, but cost more because of their size and sophistication. Battery life can also limit the life of the active RFID tag.

An RFID tag can be an active RFID tag when it is equipped with a battery that can be used as a partial or complete source of power for the tag’s circuitry and antenna. Some active tags contain replaceable batteries for years of use, and others are sealed units.

Active RFID Tag Features

  • Longest communication range of any tag
  • The capability to perform independent monitoring and control
  • The capability of initiating communications
  • The capability of performing diagnostics
  • The highest data bandwidth
  • Active RFID tags may even be equipped with autonomous networking where the tags autonomously determine the best communication path.

Active RFID Tag Advantages

  • It can communicating data at distances of as far as 300 feet.
  • It may have other sensors that can use electricity for power.
  • Active tags are capable of operating in rugged environments for years at a time.
  • Active tags are battery-powered, and can either transmit constantly or be activated by a signal from the reader.
  • The capability of performing diagnostics
  • The capability to perform independent monitoring and control
  • The capability of initiating communications

Active RFID Tag Limitations

  • The tag cannot function without battery power, which limits the lifetime of the tag.
  • The tag is typically more expensive, often costing $10 or more each
  • The tag is physically larger, which may limit applications.
  • The long-term maintenance costs for an active RFID tag can be greater than those of a passive tag if the batteries are replaced.
  • Battery outages in an active tag can result in expensive misreads.

Active RFID Tag Applications

  • Tracking high-value work in process (WIP) inventory in the aerospace and automotive manufacturing sectors
  • Tracking trailers and containers in the transportation industry, both inside a warehouse and around the depot.
  • In conjunction with GPS or GSM for locating people or things
  • With Bluetooth to locate personnel in facilities (locating doctors in hospitals, for instance)
  • Active RFID enhanced phones
  • Animal tracking
  • Security ID badges
  • Track and locate valuable assets in the healthcare, manufacturing and logistics markets
  • Health care applications- tags can be used on patients, personnel and expensive hospital equipment.