What works for you?How to choose the best technology for AutoID
QR Codes, NFC and RFID (radio frequency identification) are all systems for conveying large amounts of data in a small format. They all offer speed, labour savings and cost savings, among other benefits but there are clear differences between all three technologies.
With RedBite’s systems all three can be used, either on their own or in combination with each other. It is possible to use QR Codes and RFID tags within the same system and even on the same item. They all have their unique benefits and the choice of which to use is entirely dependent on which is the best for your needs
QR Codes are a familiar sight in newspapers, magazines, websites, posters, on business cards and even on the sides of trucks. QR codes can be scanned and read by any camera-equipped smartphone once you have downloaded one of the many scanner apps available.
What this means is that the average person can now de-code (read) a QR code, without special equipment. You staff or customers could walk into your business, see a QR code on an item, scan it with their smartphone and immediately have access to all the information that they might need.
They are also highly cost effective as QR codes can be created for free online and then simply printed onto labels and attached anywhere.
So, QR Codes are ideal if:
- You want to encourage anyone with a tablet or smartphone to be able to see information about that item or even to be able to comment on that item
- The item that you want to tag is accessible and people can get close enough with their smartphone or tablet in order to scan it
RFID (radio frequency identification) is also a technology that is now very familiar and seen in many places on a daily basis from public libraries, to ticket-less transport systems. It is also transforming the way in which retailers maintain accurate stock levels both in the store and the supply chain.
Using RFID involves applying RFID tags to items. These are often in the form of a simple label but can also be encapsulated in plastic or other hardwearing materials if they are to be used in harsher environments. The tag contains a small antenna that emits a radio frequency signal but only when it is in range of an RFID reader. Once activated by a reader, the tag sends information from about the item it is fixed to.
RFID readers are capable of reading many tags, virtually simultaneously. Furthermore it is not necessary to have a clear line of sight to the object or be very close to the tag. Indeed, the tag could be concealed and be a few meters away from the reader but you would still be able to read it. These unique features of RFID give it the potential to deliver huge efficiencies in speed of operations and labour saving
So, unlike QR codes, RFID tags require special equipment to read them but they do have major advantages if:
- You have large quantities of items that need to be identified quickly as RFID eliminates the need to point and click at every individual item
- You do not have a clear line of sight to the item
- You have items that you cannot easily get close to
- You want to find missing or misplaced items automatically
RedBite products can also work with a third technology that is also transforming the way in which business operates. NFC (Near Field Communication) tags, like QR Codes, can work with the smartphones and tablets that your staff and customers use. However, they are different technologies and have both their pros and cons when compared to one another.
Whereas virtually any smartphone can reader a QR code once is has an appropriate app installed, NFC which requires the phone to have a NFC chip installed. Also, whilst QR codes can be simply printed and applied, NFC tags are similar to RFID tags in that they contain an antenna through which it communicates with the smartphone.
On the other hand, QR codes only allow for one-way communication where as NFC can communicate both ways between two devices or even rewrite the information on an NFC tag if permitted to do so. It is this feature of NFC that means that users can make purchases at a cash register with their smartphones and connect their phone with a friend’s phone to share information or links.
So, NFC would work for you if:
- You want keep data on the item rather than in the cloud
- You want your staff and customers to be able to re-write that data
RFID, QR Codes and NFC all have their place for different purposes and under different circumstances but do not feel restrained to just using one technology as with RedBite’s technologies it is possible to use all of them to achieve the best solution for your organisation.
What is certain is that these technologies can transform the way in which you manage your stock and assets and help you to gain huge operational efficiencies that will deliver a very fast return on your investment.
If you still have questions about which technology would be right for you, then please do Contact Us