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GPS, AirTag, and RFID are three different technologies for tracking and locating objects, people, or assets. Each has distinct functionalities, and the choice of which one to use depends on specific requirements and use cases.
Let’s explore how each technology works and when you might need them:
GPS (Global Positioning System):
How GPS works: GPS is a global satellite-based navigation system that provides accurate positioning and time information anywhere on Earth. It works by using a network of satellites orbiting the Earth, which continuously transmit signals. GPS-enabled devices, such as GPS trackers, receive these signals to calculate their location based on the time it takes for the signals to reach them from multiple satellites. Logistics managers can quickly respond to any changes or issues that may arise by having detailed insight into the location of critical equipment. GPS tracking also provides valuable insights regarding utilization and efficiency, allowing mining companies to manage their operating costs effectively. Using a GPS tracking service only requires a tracking device and online application, with no additional infrastructure, making reach nearly global.
- Worldwide coverage: GPS works globally, making it suitable for tracking assets across long distances. Also can have cellular and satellite options.
- Accurate outdoor tracking: It provides precise outdoor positioning with an accuracy of a few meters.
- Limited indoor tracking: GPS signals can be weak or unavailable indoors or in densely built-up urban areas.
- Power consumption: GPS-enabled devices can consume more power, reducing battery life.
When to use GPS: GPS is ideal for outdoor tracking vehicles, assets, and people when high accuracy and global coverage are essential.
AirTag (Bluetooth and UWB):
How AirTags works: AirTag is a product developed by Apple, primarily using Bluetooth and Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology. The AirTag can track and locate items like keys, bags, or other belongings when paired with an iPhone or other Apple devices. It relies on Bluetooth to communicate with nearby Apple devices and transmit its location to the owner’s iCloud account, enabling location updates and alerts.
- Precise tracking with UWB: The UWB technology allows for more accurate positioning when used with compatible Apple devices.
- Community Find feature: If an AirTag is lost and not near any of the owner’s devices, it can still be located anonymously and securely through other nearby Apple devices belonging to other users.
- Not for rugged equipment or environments: The use case is limited to personal items and is not intended to track equipment like machinery, rigs, or important business assets.
- Limited to Apple ecosystem: AirTag requires an iPhone or Apple device to set up and use its tracking capabilities.
- Shorter range and smaller quantity: Bluetooth tracking is limited in range and quantity compared to GPS. Apple limits 16 tags per account.
When to use AirTag: AirTag is best suited for Apple users who want to track small, personal belongings within the range of their Apple devices with added precision provided by UWB.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification):
How RFID works: RFID uses radio waves to identify and monitor assets. An RFID system consists of a reader and RFID tags. The reader emits radio signals, and when an RFID tag is within range, it responds with its unique information. RFID readers must scan these tags with a limited range, requiring regular upkeep. There are two types of RFID tags: active (battery-powered) and passive (powered by the reader’s signal).
- Short-range tracking: RFID is suitable for tracking items within a limited distance from the reader, typically a few meters.
- Lower power consumption: Passive RFID tags do not require batteries and have a longer operational life.
- Limited range: RFID is shorter than GPS and may not be suitable for tracking objects over long distances.
- Reliance on infrastructure: Requires an RFID reader infrastructure to function effectively.
When to use RFID: RFID is best used for short-range tracking and identifying items in controlled environments, such as asset tracking within a warehouse or managing inventory in a retail store.
How Geoforce Can Help
Geoforce offers a wide range of GPS tracking solutions that can fit any use case. Need visibility on your assets but don’t always have a cellular connection? Our GT2h device gives you the best of satellite and cellular, making it the perfect hybrid solution. Have a shipping container in the middle of the ocean? Our GT2s is our satellite solution that can show you where your assets are when they arrive at their destination. Geoforce has a wide variety of solutions, and we’re confident we can fit you with the one that works best for you.
Connect with us today and start keeping track of what matters most.