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Real Time Location Systems - RTLS Terminology

Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) are used to automatically identify and track the location of objects or people in real time. This takes place typically indoors or in contained areas. The following terms are commonly used for RTLS.

RTLS Terminology:

Associating: A method of describing a tag's location using its proximity to other tags.

Antenna: Passive and high-frequency tags use an antenna to send and receive data. Due to the lack of battery in passive tags, an antenna is required to power the device.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE): A highly energy-efficient protocol first introduced in 2010. It allows devices to run for several years on tiny coin-cell operated batteries. Due largely to the simplicity of the technology, Bluetooth-based beacons can be created quickly and for a lower cost than competitors.

Chip: A rice-sized RFID unit that can be implanted into assets or even animals.

Far-field communication: Refers to when a tag is outside one full wavelength of the related reader. These systems imply a long read range (in comparison to near-field communication-based systems).

Gateway: A device that receives data from BLE tags (like beacons) and sends it to the Cloud for analysis or integration into another system.

High-frequency (HF) RFID: These tags operate between 3 MHz and 30 MHz. The frequency relates directly to, and in a way describes, the read range. High-frequency systems imply longer read ranges, working at a distance between 10 cm and 1 meter.

iBeacon: One protocol for beacon technology. This is the language commonly used by apps to facilitate communication between beacons and other technology.

Infrared RTLS: A tag emits a unique Infrared ID picked up by an Infrared reader. These highly reliable systems are also expensive to install.

Low-frequency (LF) RFID: These tags operate between 30 MHz and 300 MHz. The frequency relates directly to, and in a way describes, the read range. Low-frequency systems imply shorter read ranges, working in a distance less than 10 cm.

Near-field communication: Refers to when a tag is within one full wavelength of the related reader. These systems imply a short read range (in comparison to far-field communication-based systems). Here, the reader antennae emit radio waves to the tag.

Read range: The distance (or range) from which a tag can be read by a reader.

Reader: A typically stationary connected device that can send power, data and commands to related tags. This is a kind of access point that transfers data from RFID-equipped assets to the business's database.

Tag: The device attached to assets that broadcasts or otherwise transfers its location data.

Trigger: A pre-defined response that should occur when a particular asset moves in a particular way. For example, when the Gateway detects or loses sight of a particular beacon, it will send the event back to the Location Engine, triggering a given action.

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