ELG7177 Topics in Communications: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Systems
Graduate Course

Fall 2012



Miodrag Bolic

School of Information Technology and Engineering (SITE), University of Ottawa
Tel: (613) 562-5800 x 6224, Fax: (613) 562-5175
Email: mbolic@site.uottawa.ca

Web: www.site.uottawa.ca/~mbolic

Office Hours: Wednesday 12:00-13:00, CBY A-616




Components of RFID systems: tags, readers, software. Tag identification protocols: Aloha and tree based. Reader infrastructure networking: Reducing interference in RFID reader networks, deployments of large networks. Localization, read rate improvements, security and privacy. Analysis of related technologies and applications.



The course is divided in five parts.

Part 1 provides an introduction and describes architectures of both readers and tags. In addition, it defines performance metrics and terminology that will be used in the course. It distinguishes between passive and battery-operated systems with the emphasis on the passive RFID systems.

Part 2 is related to networking protocols that involve one reader and multiple tags with the goal of resolving tag to tag interference. Tag identification protocols are covered in systematic way. They include Aloha-based protocols, tree-based protocols which are the most popular. In addition tag-talks-first and tag-talks-only protocols as well as CDMA and SDMA protocols are discussed. Necessary adjustments in the protocols needed for dynamic environments with mobile tags are covered as well. Hardware solutions that are useful for interference reduction are mentioned.

Part 3 provides coverage of networking protocols that involve host and multiple readers. First, we will consider interface between the host and the readers. Next, MAC layer solutions for reducing reader-to-tag interference are discussed. In addition, redundant reader elimination problem, mobility and energy conservation problems are covered as well. Deployments of large RFID systems are discussed. Optimization of the whole system through cross-layer design is discussed as well.

In Part 4, we will cover several major research problems in RFID field such as read rates that are less than 100% even in the most favorable RF environments, low read ranges, security problems, localization of tags and lack of efficient simulators.  Some of these problems are so serious that they prevent wide-spread use of RFID technology (e.g. low read rate). Hence, a number of these problems and potential solutions are analyzed in this section. One solution to some of these issues is to introduce novel RFID technologies.

In Part 5, we will discuss related technologies including bar codes, wireless sensor networks as well as other wireless technologies used for tagging and localization. We will also discuss applications of RFID systems.









Friday 13:00-14:30

Lamoureux Hall (LMX)                        Room: 390


Wednesday 13:00 -14:30

Lamoureux Hall (LMX)                        Room: 124






Other relevant books:







(This is a very preliminary schedule)


Link to the protected Web page


Lecture #

Week of



Additional topics


Sep 3


Components and classification of RFID systems

RFID Explained: A Primer on Radio Frequency Identification Technology



Sep 10

How RFID works: EPC Generation 2 Standard

“The RF in RFID: Passive UHF RFID in Practice” 

Chapter 8



Sep 17

Issues and problems in passive UHF RFID systems

RFID Systems: Research trends and challenges:

Chapter 1


“The RF in RFID: Passive UHF RFID in Practice” 

Chapter 3



Oct 24

Other components of EPCGlobal, middleware

RFID Systems: Research trends and challenges

Chapters 6 and 10



Oct 1

Standards and implementation of HF systems

Material to cover from Klaus Finkenzeller ‘RFID Handbook: Fundamentals and Applications in Contactless Smart Cards and Identification” :


4.1.1, 4.1.5, 4.1.7,


9.2.2, 9.2.3

10.1, 10.2




Oct 8

Smart cards and HF systems



Oct 15

Localization for wireless networks and RFID systems

·         Methods, techniques and devices used for localization

·         RTLS with active RFID tags

Localization of passive RFID tags




RFID Systems: Research trends and challenges

Chapter 15



 Oct 29

Antennas for RFID tags and readers

RF design of passive RFID tags

RF design of passive RFID readers



RFID Systems: Research trends and challenges

Chapter 4, 5



Nov 5

Internet of things




Nov 12

Merging RFID and wireless sensor networks

AIDC technologies:

·         Bar Coding

·         Biometrics

·         Contact Memory




Nov 19

Additional topics: RFID-enabled sensors, Tags with rechargeable batteries, Rubee systems, SAW RFID systems, Dash-7, UWB RFID




Nov 26

Reader-tag protocols – current implementation and research directions:

·         Aloha-based protocols

·         Tree based protocols

·         Other solutions for reducing collision



Dec 3




Other topics of interest:

1.        Advanced techniques for RFID middleware: What is complex event processing? How can one use negation, parasitized predicates, and sliding windows to extend functionality of a RFID middleware. One of the references can be:  E. Wu, Y. Diao and S. Rizvi, High-performance complex event processing over streams. In Proc. 2006 ACM SIGMOD Int. Conf. Man. Data (2006) 407–418.

2.        Localization of objects using Zigbee networks; structure of a Zigbee network.

3.        What is e-Pedigree RFID standard for the pharmaceutical industry?

4.        Challenges of the deployment of large networks of stationary UHF EPC-Gen 2 compliant RFID readers.

5.        Describe wireless techniques and solutions for improving safety of elderly people. These are solutions for preventing wandering as well as for monitoring some of the vital signs. Industrial solutions include for example Wanderguard and GuardRFID.





·         Final exam (35%)

·         Preparation of the report and presentation (30%)

·         Quizzes and class participation (35%)




Additional topics will be prepared by students. Students will need to prepare slides that can cover about 15 minutes. In addition, the students will write a document about the topic of interest. The document must be in IEEE format.



We will use Top Hat Monocle to solve some of the problems in the class. At the beginning of the class there will be a short online quiz that will cover material from last lecture. Please see more details about Top Hat Monocle on the Virtual Campus.