RFID Handbook: A book review by Bob Morris

RFID HandbookRFID Handbook: Fundamentals and Applications in Contactless Smart Cards, Radio Frequency Identification and Near-Field Communication
Klaus Finkenzeller
John Wiley & Sons (2010)

The fundamentals of a retrieval system that can provide data whenever and wherever needed

I am deeply grateful to so many people for what I have learned about RFID, Big Data, and analytics. They include Michael Roberti and his associates at RFID Journal as well as – listed in alpha order — Bart Baesens, Tom Davenport, Bill Glover, Bernie Marr, Geoff Moore, Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett, and most recently, Klaus Finkenzeller. They are convinced – and have convinced me – that those who compete in the global marketplace have only begun to recognize and appreciate the unique and abundant opportunities that RFID technologies make possible.

In the Third Edition of RFID Handbook, translated by Dörte Müller and published in 2010, Finkenzeller offers a wealth of valuable information, insights, and counsel with regard to fundamentals and applications in contactless smart cards, radio frequency identification, and near-field communication. As he explains, his book aims to fill “a significant gap in the range of literature on the subject of RFID. The need for well-founded technical literature in this field is proven by the fact that this book has now appeared already in five languages.”

He duly acknowledges that technical developments in the field of RFID technology “are proceeding at such a pace that although a book like this can explain the general scientific principles it is not dynamic enough to be able to exp-lore the latest trends regarding the most recent products on the market and the latest standards and regulations.” However, “A new addition to this Third Edition is Near-field Communication (NFC) which has been introduced to several different chapters…Another addition is a complete writing diagram and proposed circuit for an RFID reader according to ISO/IEC 14443. A layout and complete component kit of this writing diagram and circuit is also available on the Internet.”

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Finkenzeller’s coverage:

o RFID differentiation features (Pages 11-28)
o Operating principles (29-59)
o Near-field communication (NFC) 57-59 and 339-346
o Magnetic Field (61-110)
o Transformed transponder impedance (85-94)
o Load modulation (94-100)
o Electronic waves (110-144)
o Antennas (116-127)
o Passive microwave transponder (129-137)
o Freeway ranges (156-164)
o Digital Modulation Procedures (180-188)
o Anticollision algorithms and procedures (194-211)
o Attacks on RFID systems (214-226)
o Attacks on RF interface (216-226)
o Protection for cryptographic measures (226-232)
o Standardization (233-282)
o Animal identification cards (233-240)
o Standardization of contactless cards (240-267)
o Proximity-coupling smart cards — ISO/IEC (243-258)
o EPCglobal network (274-282)
o Transponders with memory function (283-300)
o Memory architecture: transponder (289-300)
o Memory technology (307-311)
o Public transport (362-372)

Here in a single volume is probably most of what most business leaders need to know about what RFID is and can do. The 14 examples discussed in the final chapter (Pages 361-418) — ranging from contactless smart cards to medical applications — only begin to suggest the potentialities and implications of a technology first introduced by Mario Cardullo’s device, patented on January 23, 1973. It was a passive radio transponder with memory. The basic Cardullo patent covers the use of RF, sound, and light as transmission media. Of course, a great deal has happened in the global marketplace since this Third Edition was published in 2010. I highly recommend a subscription to RFID Journal and active participation in various events that it sponsors. Based on what I have learned from those who should know, we are only at the dawn of understanding the nature and extent of what RFID’s potentialities are. That said, I commend Klaus Finkenzeller on his provision of so much material with precision and clarity. Bravo!

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