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Types of Tracking Technology
Losing visibility into critical assets can mean losing money, time, productivity, safety, sanity… What are the different types of tracking technology and how do they work?
Location-tracking technologies are an essential part of today’s business environment, with different types of tracking technology performing crucial functions in many companies’ business processes. For instance, fieldwork relies on real-time asset tracking technology to track inventory across a wide area.
With so many types of tracking software available, it might be challenging to select one that fits your requirements. Which one is right for your assets? Read on to learn more about the different types of tracking technology that exist in the current environment.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID is a tracking technique used in various fields and has numerous indoor and outdoor applications. RFID systems require two main components to work: an RFID tag and a scanner. The tag contains an antenna used for sending and receiving radio signals and a small chip, which is used to store the information related to the broadcast.
RFID communication uses different radio frequencies for the transmission and receipt of signals. At a particular frequency, the RFID tags detect the signal and absorb the energy, which it then uses to broadcast a weak response. This helps track objects within a small radius of the scanning device, such as in a retail setting where RFID tags are used to secure expensive merchandise. It has also been applied in industrial applications, such as in supply chain management, where RFID tags are attached to every item in the logistics process for more efficient tracking of each item in the supply chain workflow.
Radio tracking builds upon the concept of RFID technology where it uses radio signals in gathering location-based information. However, whereas RFID tags rely on an external power source, radio trackers have a power source installed, which dramatically increases the range of the signals it can transmit.
However, the data that it can transmit is directional in nature, which means you can approximate the location of the object being tracked through signal strength estimation or triangulation. This is a common method employed by biologists when monitoring the behavior, eating patterns, or the health of animals in the wild.
Near-Field Communication (NFC)
NFC is a form of passive RFID technology integrated into most modern smartphones. It has gained popularity in recent years thanks to its adoption in modern ticketing and contactless payment systems. It is energy-efficient, inexpensive to implement, and highly accurate. However, its glaring weakness is apparent in its name since it only works when devices are within four inches of the terminal, greatly limiting its applications even in indoor settings.
Geofencing is another passive tracking technology based on either GPS or RFID systems. However, unlike other tracking technologies, geofencing doesn’t report location data constantly. Instead, it uses a receiver that detects the current location of an object within a specific range based on location data provided by different types of GPS devices or radio scanners using RFID technology.
When the object moves outside the designated location, an alarm then reports the violation through a transmitter. One common application of this technology is in warehouses to monitor the devices that leave the building. But inverse applications can also be applied, such as in a manufacturing setting where alarms sound off when unauthorized personnel enter a restricted area.
Internet tracking has a very specific application. It is most commonly used to track and recover stolen laptops or other computing devices. This tracking technology is integrated into the device’s BIOS and can be activated by accessing these settings on the BIOS menu.
When the feature is active, the device will then be capable of sending location data to central servers in the form of an IP address or wireless data that can be used for triangulation to help recover the lost or stolen device.
Cellphone triangulation is a tracking method that is similar to GPS tracking in many ways. It is built upon the concept that the authorities or service providers can track the location of your device even when it doesn’t have GPS or other forms of tracking capabilities.
In this case, service providers rely on your mobile phone’s signal and analyze the signal strength of the source tower, with the assumption that the tower giving off the strongest signal is closest to your location. They can then estimate your location using this data.
Although it may not be as effective as GPS or other technologies, it can be helpful when no other forms of tracking are available and in areas where cell towers are far apart, and signals are relatively weak.
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) & Satellite Tracking
One of the most popular types of tracking technology comes in the form of GPS. It is a revolutionary form of technology that utilizes a network of satellites and complex algorithms to determine the location of an object with greater accuracy.
In GPS systems, trackers are installed within different types of GPS devices. These trackers constantly communicate with satellites to compare signals in order to approximate the object’s location within a few meters of its actual location in real-time.
More advancements in GPS technology have made it possible to provide even more precise location information and have opened the door to major applications in various industries, including aviation, mass transit, construction, logistics, and mining, among many others.
Efficient Tracking Solutions with Geoforce
By combining the powerful tracking capabilities of GPS tracking and our cloud-based software platform, Geoforce is able to offer advanced tracking solutions well-suited for a variety of industrial applications through our Track and Trace solutions. Read more about how our tracking solutions can support and streamline your field operations here.