Earlier this year RFRain LLC launched their innovative RFR-IMS Inventory Management System product representing the first All-in-One RFID solution. Since then the company has received many customer inquiries where Bluetooth was originally considered but rejected based on the advantages inherent in RFID technology such as real-time read capabilities, less potential for interference, and cost differential. As you consider whether to deploy Bluetooth or RFID for your company’s business needs, it is important to understand the top three reasons why RFID beats Bluetooth technology most every time:
1. Bluetooth lag time in reading individual assets being tracked
RFID technology detects hundreds of items in the time it takes Bluetooth to detect one item. The time lag is one reason businesses are migrating from Bluetooth to RFID and is mainly attributable to the inherent differences in the technologies. Bluetooth requires a communication protocol utilizing a high CPU utilization rate for each item read, setting up a “handshake” for each item similar to the process of connecting your laptop to a router. This reduces the number of items that can be read in a short time. This “system handshake” requirement does not exist in RFID technology, which can detect assets in near real time given that the communication protocol for RFID to read individual items and information from the tags is very light and does not require a lot of processing power.
2. Crowded Bluetooth operating frequency raises interference concerns
The second factor to consider when comparing Bluetooth to RFID is to better understand each underlying technology in terms of operating bandwidth. Bluetooth operates at 2.4 GHz which is unlicensed and cluttered with Wi-Fi, non-licensed operators, and over 8,000 FCC-registered devices. Consider the example of a hospital operating environment with a multitude of medical, staff and patient Bluetooth devices operating in and around 2.5 GHz and you’ll begin to see the potential interference problems in deploying mission-critical tracking using Bluetooth.
3. Bluetooth tags are expensive and not as widely adaptable as RFID tags
The last important consideration is the cost of tags. Passive RFID tags do not require a battery. They can be readily purchased in water-, pressure- and heat-resistant formats (heat resistance up to 170C). RFID tags can be placed on literally any type of asset whether it constructed of metal, fabric, plastic, wood, etc. Bluetooth tags, on the other hand, require a battery which effectively limits the lifespan of a Bluetooth tag to about two years. They cannot be formatted for heat- or water-resistant features. Driven by the need for a power source Bluetooth tags end up costing far more than comparable passive RFID tags which can now be found in the sub-ten cent range.
Could Bluetooth technology eventually catch up? The technologists at RFRain LLC think not based on the fact that Bluetooth cannot detect assets in the thousands. At a high level deploying Bluetooth for asset tracking is the wrong implementation for the technology as it serves very well in its current format to stream audio and video data.
So what keeps more businesses from migrating to RFID? They report that the migration process is complex from the research stage through deployment, having to research then buy hardware and software from multiple vendors then incur high costs for systems integration software development to ensure everything works together properly.
RFRain LLC and its RFR-IMS Inventory Management System product offering changed all that, removing the complexity and reducing the cost of RFID to the point where virtually any business can afford to deploy RFID. The product was featured in the RFID industry publication RFID Journal as the first complete RFID tracking system which can be self-installed. RFRain RFR-IMS includes all hardware and software and cloud support necessary to deploy a complete RFID tracking system. It comes with a web-based application called the RFRain RFR-ZM Zone Manager which allows the user to set up, operate and remotely update the readers, and provides database analytics in the could or on-premise (depending on where the customer chooses to store their database). As RFID Journal pointed out, the RFR-IMS can be self-installed, giving business customers the ability to set up a full-function, complete RFID tracking system in 30 minutes or less. A starter two-antenna RFR-IMS solution from RFRain is competitively priced and is scalable from 2 to 1000+ antennas.
RFID tag prices have already dropped significantly and now with RFRain’s RFR-IMS solution available at a competitive price, it is time for any business with an asset tracking need to consider replacing Bluetooth technology with RFID solutions from RFRain.