Radio frequency identification (RFID) may be used to automatically detect, locate and/or identify objects, making it an ideal candidate for many pervasive computing applications. As RFID technology improves in terms of cost and performance, it is increasingly being explored in a variety of applications, ranging from eldercare through to the smart supply chain. However, while passive UHF RFID has many benefits over other RFID variants, reliable operation as the tag moves in the environment is inherently difficult to predict and can represent a significant challenge. It is also hard to know what effect applying the tag to an object will have.
We have developed a novel and practical experimental method called attenuation-thresholding which may be used to characterize the operating range of UHF RFID systems. It has a number of advantages over the conventional read-rate approach, but in particular it can also take account of the effects of the object that is being tagged.