An RFID system consists of several components: tags, tag readers, edge servers, middleware, and application software. The tag is the identification token that is either attached to the object to be identified or part of an ID card. The tag reader is the peripheral device that communicates with the tag over RF. Readers are available in a wide variety, ranging from simple serial or USB-attached transceivers to intelligent embedded systems that autonomously interrogate tags and communicate with computers via TCP/IP over Ethernet. An edge server is a computer system to which one or multiple tag readers are attached. The edge servers then talk via network protocols with the middleware, which, in turn, is interfacing with the application software.
The system may also include Object Naming Servers (ONS) that use a traditional data connectivity medium to partner networks used to share this new type of RFID data transaction. The amount of data transmitted may be millions of transactions per day for a global organization and will bring with it the need for very high-end database systems.
However, many current RFID systems are much simpler, particularly outside the domain of supply chain management. In such simpler systems, the application software talks directly to the tag readers, bypassing the edge servers and middleware.
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