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Barcodes vs RFID Tags: What is the Difference?

Have you never heard of these words before? Well, in essence, product barcodes and RFID tags on a conceptual level can stand for the same principles.

In reality, they can have the same appearance and even contain the same types of information. The main difference lies in that, when you buy a barcode, while they cannot as it stands go further than a 2-dimensional form – the RFID tag contains a component that gives it the capability to contain a far greater amount of information in its electronic form. This means that the RFID tag has a greater potential for growth, leaving the growth of the barcode effectively stagnant while the RFID tag continues to develop with greater possibilities.

A barcode can be described as a kind of data collection and inventory capturing system that separates products with a set of visual lines or shapes that stand to signify information. It is a means by with the method of data capture and product tracking is made simple. In contrast, a RFID, also known as radio frequency identification, is a different kind of data collection scheme that contains an encrypted code that is translated and understood through invisible radio waves.

RFID tags use these electromagnetic fields in order to identify and keep track of tags that have been adhered to objects – such aircrafts for example. Using a scanning antenna to transmit signals, a transceiver to receive and read the data, and a transponder to send a replying signal, the RFID tag waits for a reader’s antennae to be close enough in range and then reads the accessible information.

Although it might be undoubtedly true that barcodes are irreplaceable by RFID tags, the overarching question that keeps popping up in the back of people’s minds is whether the science behind a RFID tag can advance into a potential barcode replacement, or if the two couldn’t possibly be combined into one powerful tracking tool?


RFID tags do not have the capability to do everything a barcode can. A barcode image is able to be emailed in the form of an image and then printed (by any printer really), whereas an RFID tag cannot do this as it exists only in electronic form. It is for this reason that the RFID tags are thought to be safer and more secure than a barcode, although their usage is limited.

Not only can RFID tags contain much more data and information, they are also able to utilize that data in many more ways than the barcode. While barcodes simply hoard the information that is to be read by scanners, the information on RFID tags has the ability to read and write – information is stored on the RFID tag and information can be altered on certain RFID tags.

On top of this, information can be sealed on the RFID tag, which adds an element of privacy that would be crucial in some industries, such as government for example. While all this sounds good and well, there is a problem in that these tags can come at quite a price and are far more expensive to implement than their barcode counterpart.

There is a lot more that you can say about RFID tags, but the good old classic barcode must not be left without its own praise. As a starting point, the price difference existing between barcodes and RFID tags is unparalleled – as a barcode generator can even be found on the internet for free. The more advanced and sophisticated technology necessary to generate and use RFID tags naturally comes at a higher price. Although, in the future, this price tag may not be a problem if RFID tag technology continues to become cheaper as has been the trend for many years.

Where barcodes offer uniqueness, RFID tags go an extra step in offering personalization. With RDIF tags having the capability to read and write – the experience of gaming, shopping and even hotels can be far more personalized for each customer. Everyone desires feeling unique and special and to have their specific needs met. RFID technology is a form of communication and transition of data that involves no contact and allows people to have a greater sense of individuality.

Are you a small business in South Africa and new to the process on how to buy a barcode? Never fear! There are many places where you can buy barcodes South Africa especially has barcode re-sellers that offer you barcodes at a reduced rate! Here is a great one I found: https://www.barcodesolutions.co.za/

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