Flexible and time-efficient tag scanning with handheld readers

Xuan Liu, Shigeng Zhang, Bin Xiao, Kai Bu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Tag scanning is an important issue to dynamically manage tag IDs in radio frequency identification (RFID) systems. Different from tag identification that collects IDs of all the tags, tag scanning first verifies whether or not a responding tag has already been identified and retrieves its ID when the answer is yes, and collects the tag's ID only when it is unidentified. In this paper, we present the first study on spot scanning with a handheld reader, which aims to scan tags in the reader's interrogation range at an arbitrarily specified position in the system. Existing studies mainly focus on continuous scanning, and they are highly time inefficient in performing spot scanning. The inefficiency stems from the small overlap between tag populations in different spot scanning operations, in which case existing solutions cannot efficiently recognize unidentified tags. We develop a novel technique called LOCK to efficiently recognize unidentified tags even when the overlapped tags are few. LOCK does not simply use a tag's reply slot index but also compact short responses from tags to efficiently distinguish unidentified tags from identified ones. The valuable compact short responses are firstly investigated, which are the keys for efficient tag identification in the paper. Based on LOCK, three tag scanning protocols are proposed to solve the spot scanning problem. Simulation results show that, for spot scanning, our best protocol reduces per tag scanning time by up to 70 percent when compared with the state-of-the-art solution. Moreover, the proposed protocols can also be employed to perform continuous scanning with better time efficiency than the best existing solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7008541
Pages (from-to)840-852
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • handheld reader
  • RFID system
  • spot scanning
  • tag scanning
  • time-efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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