A Simple Software Update Can Turn Your Smartphone into An RFID Reader

By: | March 1st, 2023

Image by UC San Diego

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. RFID tags can store a range of information.

But to retrieve the data stored on these RFID tags, an RFID reader is required

The RFID reader is a portable device that emits radio waves and receives signals back from the RFID tag. Commonly used passive RFID (radio frequency identification) tags do not have batteries. Instead, they are temporarily powered by radio waves emitted from an RFID reader.

That may soon change when smartphones will turn into full-on RFID readers!

Scientists at the University of California San Diego have developed a new technology that can turn smartphones into RFID readers with a simple software update for the phone and a tiny inexpensive chip which is roughly the size of a grain of sand, used in the tag.

When the smartphone gets within one meter of the chip, the phone’s LTE signal powers the chip up. The chip turns Bluetooth transmissions sent by phone into Wi-Fi signals, which can in turn be detected by a smartphone with that specific software update.

The best part is that the device relies on common communication protocols: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and LTE, which makes it extremely practical as all smartphones are equipped with these technologies.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

More articles from Industry Tap...