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Not all tags can be mounted on metal surfaces and where they can the possible read
distance is reduced. OneTag is an example of a current product which separates the tag
from the metal surface with a dielectric intermediate layer. In Case Study III we give an
example of a library which scanned and printed book covers, removing metal ones when
necessary in order to utilise the technology.
To illustrate clearly the difference between use of barcodes and smart labels, here is a
sample scenario.
In the case of barcodes which allow storage of structured data in addition to identifica-
tion number, the movement of an item within a collection may be done following several
1. The record for the item is edited to change its status.
2. The item's identification number is given to the staff member who will make the
3. A desired new location is specified and supplied to the staff member who has to
make the change.
4. The staff member swipes the barcode on the item.
5. The computer system retrieves the relevant record. New location data is entered.
6. Staff member makes the physical change of place and swipes the barcode at the new
location.This updates the record in the computer system with the new location code.
If this item was supplied with a rewritable RFID tag, the item's location can be edited
on the tag directly and the computer system will have only to be updated with the new
location.When the item is moved, the tagging station is used to update the record.
Currently, barcodes and RFID co-exist in the cultural heritage sector. Libraries which
introduced RFID technologies (like Santa Clara City Library, California, Case Study III)
report that after the introduction of the new technology, 30% of library materials were
Smart Labels
and Smart Tags
Type of record
Read only
Read only and Read/Write
Mostly does not store data,
but points to a database. New
versions can store data
Stores data
Requires line of sight
More options: can be read
through covers
Direction for reading
Reading only in one direction
Can be read in any direction
Static/dynamic use
Reading only in static position
Can be read while moving
Simultaneous usage
Reading one by one
Several tags can be read
Ray of light
Currently from 5 to 700 cm
(for our wave range)
< 2 cents
50 cents
Damaged more easily
For commercial use tested
extensively; not damaged even
in harsh open-air environment
Use on metal surface
Tags must be separated from
metal surfaces by a dielectric