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05/08/13 A Solution to the RFID Reader Interference Problem using Adaptive Beam-forming Approach Sayeed MI, Kim YS,

Yang H, Yook JG - IETE Tech Rev


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ARTICLE
Year : 2011 | Volume : 28 | Issue : 1 | Page : 17-28
A Solution to the RFID Reader Interference Problem using Adaptive Beam-forming Approach
Md. Sakil Ibne Sayeed
1
, Young Soo Kim
1
, Hoongee Yang
2
, Jong-Gwan Yook
3
1
Department of Electronic and Radio Engineering, Kyung Hee University, 1, Socheon-Dong, Giheung-Gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-
do, 449-701, Korea
2
Department of Radio Science Enginnering, Kwangwoon University, 447-1, Wolgye-Dong, Nuwon-gu, Seoul, 139-701, Korea
3
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Yonsei University, 134, Sinchon-dong, Seodeamun-gu, Seoul, 120-749,
Korea
Date of Web Publication 3-Jan-2011

Correspondence Address:
Md. Sakil Ibne Sayeed
Department of Electronic and Radio Engineering, Kyung Hee University, 1, Socheon-Dong, Giheung-Gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-
do, 449-701
Korea
DOI: 10.4103/0256-4602.74511
Abstract
Radio frequency identification (RFID) is one of the most attractive and futuristic technologies that can identify an object or person
wirelessly, using electromagnetic radio waves. In a multiple reader RFID system, the reader interference problem is a very
common phenomenon. Efforts are required to minimize this problem as performance, speed and reliability of the entire system
highly depends on our ability to solve this problem efficiently. A simple adaptive beam-forming technique is proposed for solving
the reader interference problem in a multiple reader RFID system. This new approach is able to effectively generate deep nulls at
the direction of interference and respond to the direction of our desired signal. Simulations are carried out to evaluate the
performance of our adaptive beam-forming approach and the results confirmed that, the proposed method can adaptively
generate a high gain beam to the desired signal direction to acquire and track the signal completely, and it can generate deep nulls
at the direction of other readers effectively to avoid interference. Moreover, this method has been found to be very efficient in
terms of Bit Error Rate and energy consumption.
Keywords: Adaptive beam-forming, LMS algorithm, Reader interference, RFID.
How to cite this article:
Sayeed MI, Kim YS, Yang H, Yook JG. A Solution to the RFID Reader Interference Problem using Adaptive Beam-forming
Approach. IETE Tech Rev 2011;28:17-28
How to cite this URL:
Sayeed MI, Kim YS, Yang H, Yook JG. A Solution to the RFID Reader Interference Problem using Adaptive Beam-forming
Approach. IETE Tech Rev [serial online] 2011 [cited 2013 Aug 5];28:17-28. Available from: http://tr.ietejournals.org/text.asp?
2011/28/1/17/74511
1. Introduction
Radio frequency identification (RFID) is one of several technologies collectively known as Auto-ID procedures that identify
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05/08/13 A Solution to the RFID Reader Interference Problem using Adaptive Beam-forming Approach Sayeed MI, Kim YS, Yang H, Yook JG - IETE Tech Rev
tr.ietejournals.org/text.asp?2011/28/1/17/74511 2/11
Radio frequency identification (RFID) is one of several technologies collectively known as Auto-ID procedures that identify
objects automatically with as little human intervention as possible
[1]
. Other important auto-ID procedures include barcode,
biometrics (for example, using fingerprint and retina scan, voice identification), smart card and optical character recognition
(OCR) systems. In recent years Auto-ID procedures, especially RFID, have become very popular in many service industries such
as purchasing and distribution logistics, industry, manufacturing companies and material flow systems. RFID is fundamentally a
radio technology that uses radio waves to identify individual items wirelessly and promises faster, reliable and more accurate
identification of goods. It can be defined as a wireless data transmission and reception technique for automatic identification, which
has the ability to identify, track and categorize individual items without human intervention. RFID systems are available in a great
variety. Despite the large diversity, every RFID system consists of three basic components: tags, readers and the data processing
sub-system as illustrated in [Figure 1]. Both the reader and tag consists an antenna that controls the systems' data access and
communication.
Figure 1: A basic RFID system
Click here to view
Advantages of this technology compared to barcodes and other traditional identification techniques available so far are that no line
of sight is required; tags can be read wirelessly at any orientation and it is the only technology that can read multiple items
simultaneously
[2]
. Certainly, it has the prospect to introduce a network of objects so they can be tracked online and the
information can be shared through the Internet in future. As a result, other traditional Auto-ID systems are rapidly being replaced
with inexpensive RFID tag-based systems today. Radio frequency identification is certainly not a new concept, as it has been
around for more than four decades. History of RFID can be traced back to the 1920s with the invention of radar systems.
Theoretically, the concept of RFID was first introduced by H. Stockman in his landmark paper 'Communication by means of
reflected power' published in 1948. In fact, the development of RFID technology was a combination of radar and radio broadcast
technology but it is usually believed that, RFID was developed out of the radar experiments and developments during the World
War II, long before its commercial applications were implemented
[3]
. Since RFID systems operate in RF frequencies, both the
readers and tags communicate over a shared wireless channel and transmitted data is subject to the vagaries and influences of the
media or channels through which the data must pass. This communication link, air in this case, is very sensitive and can be affected
by path-loss, fading, attenuation, interference or collision and metallic shields or any other hostile media that may be present
between or near the tag and reader, like other radio communication systems
[4]
. Thus, these factors must be guarded against in
seeking to achieve error-free data recovery and read rate accuracy. Due to the limited scope of this paper, this study will only
discuss the interference problems, particularly the reader interference problems in RFID system. In the context of RFID system,
interference or collision occurs when either several tags or several readers are simultaneously present in the same RF field and
either of the reader-to-tag signals or tag-to-reader signals interferes with other
[5]
. Consequences of these interferences are
unsatisfactory read rate and unacceptable level of misread or error. As the ability to recognize multiple tags with high speed is the
main measure to evaluate the performance of RFID systems, interferences unquestionably reduces the accuracy, reliability and
efficiency of the system or even can paralyze an entire system. Therefore, resolving interference problems in RFID systems has
been a consistent and significant research subject. Until now, many researchers have done profound research and proposed some
resultant algorithms to avoid interference problems in RFID systems such as Colorwave - a distributed TDMA-based algorithm,
where the transmission channel is divided into many timeslots; Q-Learning - a hierarchical, online learning algorithm; Pulse
algorithm - a carrier sensing multiple access (CSMA) based algorithm that attempts to solve the reader collision problem by using
two separate channels, DiCa - a reader collision avoidance algorithm with distributed and energy efficient characteristics and
MCMAC - a contention-based MAC protocol, similar to the conventional listen before talk (LBT) protocol. In recent years
some researchers are also suggesting utilization of adaptive beam-forming techniques to resolve the interference problems that are
still on the drawing boards of designers or under investigation, mostly concerning the tag side interference problems. Very few
studies in this field could be found in the published literatures. There is a huge prospect of using the adaptive beam-forming
techniques to solve the reader interference problems effectively. Therefore, in response to the tremendous prospect, this study
proposed a simple adaptive beam-forming technique to mitigate the reader interference problems in a multiple reader RFID
system and also verified the effectiveness of our proposed method by simulations. The remainder of this paper is organized as
follows: Section 2 presents a general overview on the reader interference problems in RFID system. Section 3 has discussed
some major existing approaches to solve the reader interference problems in RFID system and recent adoption of adaptive beam-
forming techniques. In Section 4, a new and easy solution has been proposed for the problem. Simulations carried out to evaluate
this proposed method and their results are discussed in detail in Section 5. Finally, relevant conclusions are drawn in Section 6.
2. Reader Interference Problems
At its most basic level, RFID system is a wireless link that identifies unique objects, processes, transaction or events. RFID
systems communicate via radio signals that carry data either unidirectionally or bidirectionally and in general are considered
passive systems, due to the widespread use of passive tags as a consequence of their low cost and small size. At first, a reader
initiates communication by emitting a continuous radio frequency (RF) carrier wave generally known as continuous wave (CW).
When a tag enters the RF field of a reader, the tag receives energy from the field to power up the inner circuits. After the tag has
received sufficient energy, it is ready to communicate. Utilizing one of the many available algorithms, the tags arbitrate their state
and the reader separates a specific tag for communication. Then the reader sends a command by modulating the CW carrier. Tags
demodulate and decode those signals and responds by backscatter modulating the RF carrier, according to the data stored on the
tag
[6]
. The reader detects the modulated response signal from the tag. Since the passive tags does not have any power source of
its own, the power of its response signal is much smaller compared to the readers interrogation signal. A relatively high sensitivity
reader antenna is used at a given bit error rate (BER) to detect the backscattered signals. Reader then demodulates and decodes
this low power signal in order to retrieve the necessary data from the tag. This information is relayed to the data processing sub-
system where more manipulation of the data may be performed, and where relevant information is finally displayed for the user.
Interference can occur in an RFID system when either several tags or several readers are simultaneously present in the same field
05/08/13 A Solution to the RFID Reader Interference Problem using Adaptive Beam-forming Approach Sayeed MI, Kim YS, Yang H, Yook JG - IETE Tech Rev
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Interference can occur in an RFID system when either several tags or several readers are simultaneously present in the same field
and either of the reader-to-tag signals or tag-to-reader signals interfere with others causing unsatisfactory read rate and
unacceptable level of misread or error. This situation definitely affects the overall performance and efficiency of an RFID system.
According to the distinctiveness of interference problems in RFID system, they are classified into two types: tag interference and
reader interference. Tag interference occurs when a reader attempts to read a tag from a large number of tags collocated in the
readers RF field and more than one tag responds simultaneously confusing the reader
[5]
. This phenomenon is also known as
'multi-access' and makes the reader unable to read any tag at all. There are two types of tag collision or tag interferences: active
tag interference and passive tag interference. The latter is more complicated as low-functional passive tags can neither detect
interference nor figure out neighboring tags
[7]
. On the other hand, due to the use of radio frequencies for communication,
interference detected by one reader and caused by another reader in a multiple reader RFID system is referred to as reader
interference, and the problem to minimize reader interference is referred to as the reader interference problem
[8]
. As advanced
RFID readers have the ability to detect collisions and communicate with one another, resolving reader collision problems are much
easier than tag collisions
[9]
. All RFID readers have a limited read-write zone referred to as the interrogation zone or read range
of the reader, within which it can recognize a tag and further can communicate with that tag
[8]
. The size of this interrogation zone
depends on lots of factors, such as the character of reader antenna, the transmitting power of the reader, the working condition of
the reader, different characters of the tag, etc
[10]
. Beyond the read range, a reader cannot communicate with tags but within a
finite space they still can cause some interference to other reader or tag due to the frequency used, well-known as the interference
zone or interference range. Interference range is always larger than the read range. Applications like supply chain management,
real-time inventory detection and automated production system requires RFID readers to be able to read tags anywhere within a
large geographic area. Due to the limited read range inherent in the reader-to-tag communication and for reading multiple tags
efficiently with faster speed, highest accuracy, better interference mitigation ability and improved capacity, these applications
require an RFID system where multiple readers and tags operate in close proximity of each other in the same RF field. This
eventually results in overlapping interrogation zones and even interference zones at many locations within that geographic area
increasing thus reader interference probability. The reader collision problem is put forward for the first time by Engels and Sarma
in
[8]
. Leong, Leng and Cole had analyzed the reader collision problems abstractly in
[11]
. There are two primary types of reader
interferences experienced in RFID systems - reader-to-reader frequency interference and multiple readers-to-tag interference.
Reader-to-reader frequency interference or simply frequency interference occurs when two or more neighboring readers work at
the same time using the same frequency. When physically close readers communicate at the same time and on the same frequency,
one reader signal interferes with the operation of another reader, thus preventing the second reader from communication with tags
in its own interrogation zone. Overlapping of readers read range is not necessary for this kind of collision. It can be further
subdivided into reader-to-reader frequency interference and tag-to-reader frequency interference. Multiple readers-to-tag
interference occur when a tag is located in the interrogation zone of two or more readers and more than one reader tries to read
the tag simultaneously. In such a situation, the readers collide with each other at the tag, that is, the tag will hear multiple readers'
query at the same time and it might not be able to respond to any reader at all.
3. Related Works
In a multiple reader or dense reader environment, there will be multiples of RFID readers at close proximity which can interfere
with each other, referred to as the reader interference problem. It is a very important issue in a multiple reader or dense reader
RFID systems as it can reduce the reliability and efficiency of a system or even can entirely paralyze the system. Therefore, solving
the reader interference problems in a multiple or dense reader RFID system is very crucial prior to the large-scale deployment of
this kind of systems since performance, speed and reliability of the whole system highly depend on our ability to solve this problem
efficiently. For that reason, many researchers have done profound research and proposed some resultant algorithms to avoid
reader interference problems in an RFID system.
In this section, this study will try to provide an overview on different algorithms proposed to solve the reader interference
problems in RFID systems. [Figure 2] shows the classification for existing RFID reader anti-collision algorithms according to their
approach
[12]
.
Figure 2: Classification of existing RFID reader anti-collision algorithms
Click here to view
The Colorwave algorithm
[9],[13]
is a distributed TDMA-based algorithm, where the transmission channel is divided into many
timeslots (color) ranging from 0 to Maxcolor. Each reader randomly chooses a color to communicate with tags. If collision occurs,
the reader randomly chooses a new color and sends a kick packet to tell its neighbors the new color it has chosen. If any of the
neighbors has the same color, it chooses a new color again and sends a kick packet. The reader repeats this process until it gets a
free color and reserves it. The process will keep implementing until all the tags are recognized. Each reader continuously keeps
track of the current timeslot. Q-Learning or HiQ
[14]
is a hierarchical, online learning algorithm. It finds solutions to the reader
interference problem by learning the collision pattern of the RFID system and effectively assigning frequencies over time to the
readers. This algorithm is composed of three basic hierarchical layers: the reader, the reader-level server or R-server and the Q-
learning server. The reader is in the lowest position of the hierarchical structure and transmits collision information to the R-
servers. An individual R-server can assign resources to its readers in such a way that they do not interfere with each other's
communication. R-servers are allocated frequencies and time slots by the Q-learning servers, or Q-servers. The root Q-server
has global knowledge of all frequency and time slot resources, and is able to allocate them all. Unlike R-servers, Q-servers have
no knowledge of constraints between individual readers. Pulse algorithm
[15],[16]
is a carrier sensing multiple access (CSMA)
based algorithm that attempts to solve the reader collision problem by using two separate channels. This algorithm divides the
communication channel between RFID readers and tags into two parts: control channel and data channel. The control channel is
used for reader-to-reader communication and the data channel is used for the communications between readers and tags. The
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used for reader-to-reader communication and the data channel is used for the communications between readers and tags. The
scope of the control channel is such that, any two readers that can interfere with each other on data channel are able to
communicate on the control channel. Broadcasting messages in the control channel does not affect the ongoing communication on
the data channel. Throughout the whole process of the reader-tag communication, the reader will send beacon package over the
control channel at every interval until the process is finished. Many other algorithms have also been proposed in
[17],[18],[19],[20],
[21],[22]
. All of the anti-collision algorithms discussed in literature have its own unique properties and functionality. In general most
of these approaches have some limitations such as, the requirement of additional resource management and time synchronization
between readers. They try to solve the collision problem after it takes place, rather than taking prior action. Moreover, some
approaches assume that readers are able to detect all kinds of interferences in the RFID system, which is impractical for a reader
alone unless the tags take part in the collision detection. To overcome the problems mentioned earlier in this section, recently some
researcher is also proposing the utilization of adaptive beam-forming techniques to mitigate the RFID reader interference problems
efficiently with faster speed, highest accuracy and better collision mitigation ability. Implementation of adaptive beam-forming
technologies for RFID systems are in the developmental stage and have not yet emerged as the mainstream-enabling technology.
Researchers both from academy and industry around the world are working on the adoption of adaptive beam-formers for RFID
systems, which are still on the drawing boards of designers or under investigation; especially, commercial research groups are
devoted to get patents of their works
[23]
. Until now, very few studies in this field could be found in the published literature. In the
rest of this section, this study will try to highlight some works on recent adoption of adaptive beam-forming techniques to solve the
interference problems in RFID systems. Nong-Kun Chen, Jiann-Liang Chen and Cheng-Chun Lee
[24]
has proposed an array-
based anti-collision scheme (ARCS) for solving the reader-to-tag interference problem and the design to be applied to passive
tags, which focuses on preventing collisions rather than just responding to them after the event. This scheme prevents collision by
grouping the readers and scheduling to reduce the read cycle time. This approach needs tight time synchronization. Jiexiao Yu,
Kai Hua Liu, Xiangdong Huang and Ge Yan had discussed a smart antenna-based RFID system to solve the tag collision
problems in
[25]
. This algorithm utilizes SDMA in RFID system. In this algorithm, the interrogation zone of a reader can be
divided into several sub-spaces and tags in different sub-spaces can be distributed in the same time slot and frequency to avoid
the colliding between them. In
[26]
Asli F. Mindikoglu and Alle-Jan van der Veen also proposed a method to solve the tag
collision problems by separation of overlapping RFID signals using antenna arrays. In this paper, the authors demonstrated how
an antenna array in combination with blind source separation techniques can be used to separate multiple overlapping tag signals.
This algorithm is effective at high SNRs, but is limited at lower (and more realistic) SNRs. Nonetheless, separation using beam-
forming techniques certainly seems feasible. James W, Jack W and Robert W have developed an adaptive antenna array for an
RFID reader to significantly increase the operating range of the RFID system in
[27]
. The smart antenna combines the signals from
multiple antenna elements to significantly increase the received signal-to-noise ratio. In a noise-limited environment, combining the
signals to maximize the received signal-to-noise ratio can be based on the maximal ratio combining (MRC) principle. To achieve
the best signal quality, all received signals from each antenna element are phase-shifted to make them in phase. In addition, the
signal from each antenna can be scaled in amplitude based on the square root of its received signal-to-noise ratio. Nemai Chandra
Karmakar, Shushin Mukul Roy and Mohammad Sakib Ikram
[28]
has developed a 32 planar smart antenna for RFID readers in
a low cost compact package. In this paper they presented a detailed design guideline for the component level physical layer
deployment of the smart antenna. The antenna was designed at the 910 MHz frequency band that has a potential market value.
Adaptive beam-forming approach (ABA) for RFID antenna technology is being adopted by RFID manufacturers such as Omron
Corporation, Japan, RFID Inc. and RFSAW, USA. In March 2006, Omron Corporation developed a new electronically
controlled antenna technology in their UHF band RFID reader systems. Recently, RFID Inc. has introduced a 32-element
compact package smart antenna with associated switches at 125 KHz frequency band. This new product advances RFID
applications in factory automation, process controls and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) markets. However, the technical
details of these smart antennas for RFID readers are not available in open literature due to commercial-inconfidence nature of the
works. As we can see most of these works concentrate in tag side collision and there are very few studies in the published
literature that deals with reader interference mitigation in RFID system by utilizing adaptive beam-forming technique. However,
from the preceding discussions, adoption of the beam-forming technique for efficiently mitigating reader interference problems in
RFID system certainly seems realistic and could be an innovative and futuristic research field.
4. Proposed Method
As this study discussed in earlier sections, for an efficient and high-speed RFID system multiple readers needs to be used. As a
result, interference between the readers is very likely to occur which can reduce the reliability and efficiency of the system or even
can entirely paralyze the entire system. Therefore, we must have to utilize some method to mitigate the interference problem and
acquire a reliable, efficient and high-speed RFID system. This work proposes a new and simple method to mitigate the reader
interference problems in RFID system in response to the tremendous prospect of utilizing adaptive beam-forming techniques.
Theoretically, this proposed method is able to effectively generate deep nulls at the direction of other readers to avoid interference
and respond to the desired signals from the direction of our interest. As there is no sensitivity at the direction of other readers,
there would not be any interference due to their operation and thus interference between readers could be easily avoided. It will
not be impractical to believe that, adaptive beam-forming technologies can surely and significantly improve the performance and
capacity of RFID systems in order to read multiple tags efficiently with faster speed, highest accuracy and better interference
mitigation ability.
4.1 Adaptive Beam-forming
Research on the adaptive beam-forming technologies has increased tremendously to keep pace with the constantly expanding
needs of the wireless communications industry since they are emerging as an innovative way to meet the growing demand for more
powerful, cost-effective and highly efficient wireless systems. In its primitive age, adaptive beam-forming technologies have been
used only in defense systems due to its prohibitive cost. This situation is changed with the development of low-cost DSPs that
made this technology suitable for a wide range of wireless applications such as ultra wideband (UWB), RFID and mobile direct
broadcast satellite (DBS). In the next few years, these wireless applications are expected to see extensive adoption of adaptive
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broadcast satellite (DBS). In the next few years, these wireless applications are expected to see extensive adoption of adaptive
beam-forming technologies.
A typical adaptive beam-former system, as shown in [Figure 3], generally consists of conventional array of small non-directional
multiple antenna elements known as an antenna array in conjunction with a real-time advanced signal processor. The sensor array
collects spatial samples of propagating wave fields and then using a variety of signal-processing algorithms. The advanced signal
processor creates the radiation pattern by filtering and linearly combining the weighted output of each sensor in such a way that the
system dynamically maximizes the antenna gain in the desired direction and minimizes the gain in directions of interferers. As a
result, it can locate, identify and track various types of signals effectively. Compared to a typical antenna system, it also provides
dramatic improvements in system capacity, array gain and interference reduction, which eventually improves the SNR to achieve a
given quality of service. L.C. Godara has discussed beam-forming quite thoroughly and provided a comprehensive review of
various related topics in
[29]
. The signal processor interprets the incoming data information and iteratively approximates the
complex optimum weights according to the changing electromagnetic environment with the help of an optimization algorithm
usually known as adaptive beam-forming algorithm, designed so that the beam-former response converges to a statistically
optimum solution, based on certain criteria to produce maximum beam gain at the desired direction
[30]
, such as maximizing the
signal-to-interference ratio (SIR), minimizing the variance, minimizing the mean-square error (MSE), steering toward a signal of
interest, nulling the interfering signals, or tracking a moving emitter to name a few
[31]
. This kind of adaptive beam-formers are
sometimes referred to as "smart antenna arrays". The term is not inappropriate, since they are able to adaptively optimize the array
pattern according to the changing electromagnetic environment and certain conditions, utilizing the information available in the
antenna aperture far more than a conventional array. They also introduce a number of new advantages, including increased range,
a higher level of security and the possibility for new services
[32]
. There are several adaptive beam-forming algorithms varying in
complexity based on different criteria for updating and computing the optimum weights such as least mean square (LMS)
algorithm, constant modulus algorithm (CMA) and recursive least squares (RLS) algorithm.
Figure 3: Adaptive beam-forming antenna array.
Click here to view
For example, let us consider a uniformly spaced linear array as shown in [Figure 4] with M identical omni-directional sensors. The
inter-element spacing is denoted by d = /2. If the incident signals consists of a narrowband-desired signal S(t), incident with
azimuth angle of arrival
0
and N interfering signals i
N
(t), incident with azimuth angles of arrival
N
, where 1 n N, then the
received signal vector x(t) can be represented by (1)
Figure 4: Adaptive array antenna system utilizing a uniform linear array of M sensors
Click here to view
where, [.]
H
is the Hermitian transpose operator, n(t) is a noise vector modeled as temporally white and zero-mean complex
Gaussian process, a
0
is the steering vector of the desired signal and a
N
is the steering vector of the interfering signals.
The optimum array weight vector is iteratively obtained using an appropriate adaptive beam-forming algorithm. This weight vector
is then multiplied with the output of each sensor element and combined to optimize the array pattern so as to minimize the
contribution from noise and interference while producing maximum beam gain at the desired signal direction. The output response
of the uniform linear array can be represented by equation (2)
where, w is the optimum weight vector and x(t) is the received signal vector given in (1). Many adaptive beam-forming algorithms
estimate the error by comparing the array output with a reference or training signal to adaptively adjust the complex weight vector
w.
4.2 Implementation Scenario
To better understand our proposed method, consider a scenario where four typical RFID readers are used at close proximity in a
warehouse to read huge volume of tags, attached with different goods, efficiently with faster speed and highest accuracy. [Figure
5] demonstrates one of the possible interference scenarios among the readers. A dashed circle denotes the interfering range of the
reader located at its center, while small dots represent randomly deployed tags. Each reader has interfering range that overlaps
with more than one reader. If only one reader is active at a time there would not be any problem to read the tags but the intension
of using multiple readers will not be fulfilled then and it would not be efficient in terms of system performance either. However, if
any two or more readers, located in their overlapping zone, start to query or read tags at the same time, then interference is also
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any two or more readers, located in their overlapping zone, start to query or read tags at the same time, then interference is also
very likely to occur.
Now if the typical readers in the above-mentioned RFID environment are replaced by our proposed adaptive beam-former-
based readers, the reader collision problem can be solved very easily as these readers can effectively generate deep nulls at the
direction of other readers and respond to the desired signal from the direction of our interest as illustrated in [Figure 6]. Here we
can see, main beam of readers 1, 2, 3 and 4 are steered to different directions and can be steered towards any desired direction
easily to acquire and track the desired signal according to the system environment.
Figure 5: Densely deployed multiple readers in a typical RFID system
Click here to view
Figure 6: Densely deployed multiple readers in our proposed adaptive beam-former-based
RFID system
Click here to view
As there are deep nulls, that is, no sensitivity at other reader directions, there would not be any interference due to the
simultaneous operation of those readers and in consequence, interference between readers could be easily avoided. On the other
hand, tags are separated in different sub-spaces, which allow them to be distributed in the same time slot and frequency, As a
result there will be a definite reduction in the tag side collision too. The main beam direction and size can be adjusted according to
the requirements of real RF environment very easily with widely available low-cost digital signal processors (DSPs) for adaptive
beam-forming, enabling the use of this technology in a wide range of RFID applications.
5. Simulation Results
The discussion in previous section convinces the application of adaptive beam-forming techniques for RFID technology to mitigate
the reader interference problems. However, is it possible to use the proposed method efficiently in real conditions? Well, one of
the ways to know for sure is probably to implement a real system that is costly and time consuming if different variations and
combination of parameters are to be tested. Therefore, instead of implementing a real system, this study chooses simulations, as
simulations are much easier to implement and can be tested for different environments and various parameters with less difficulty.
To answer the question, the authors carried out three separate computer-simulated experiments. For this, a real RFID
communication (between reader and tag) environment model was simulated in a computer using MATLAB according to the
EPCGlobal UHF Gen 2 standards. To represent the proposed adaptive beam-former-based reader antenna, this study simulated
an 8-sensor linear array with half wavelength inter-sensor spacing and to optimize the beam-former response, the LMS adaptive
algorithm was used because of its simplicity, easy implementation, low-computational complexity and robustness. In this section,
simulation results are presented for the validation of the concept. In the first simulation, this study tried to find how effectively the
proposed method can respond to any desired signal direction and generate deep nulls at the direction of other readers to avoid
interference. In the second simulation, this study checked the proposed method for the effectiveness to track and acquire the
desired signal from the direction of interest. Then, in the third, this study tried to evaluate the performance of the proposed method
compared to a typical RFID system in terms of BER.
For these simulated experiments, this study started with the assumption that, our multiple-reader RFID system consists of two
stationary or fixed readers, where the exact positions of the readers are known and no new or mobile readers are considered for
a simple analysis. During the second simulation, this study assumed the desired tag response is coming from the direction of 0 and
one interfering signal from another reader is coming from the direction of -60 to evaluate the ability to acquire and track the
desired signal. Finally, for the third simulation, this study used Monte Carlo simulation technique to compare the BER of our
proposed method with a typical RFID system.
5.1 First Simulation
In this simulation, this study tried to find how effectively this proposed method can respond to any desired signal direction and
generate deep nulls at the direction of other readers. At first, the proposed adaptive beam-former-based reader antenna utilizing
the LMS adaptive algorithm was modeled in MATLAB. Then, the desired signal arrival angle and interference signals' arrival
angle was varied for several times. [Figure 7] shows only a few of the results obtained from this simulation.
Figure 7: Proposed reader antenna response to different signal arrival angle
Click here to view
These results clearly shows that the proposed method can effectively respond to any desired signal direction with higher beam gain
and generate deep nulls at any direction of other interferers (readers in this case) to avoid interference.
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5.2 Second Simulation
In this simulation, this study tried to justify the capability of the proposed method to acquire and track the desired signal from the
direction of interest and avoid interference by generating deep nulls at the interference direction allowing us to reduce reader
interference problems in a densely deployed RFID system.
Generation of tag response: As we know, passive tags usually responds by backscattering the reader CW using ASK or PSK
modulation with either of FM0 base band or Miller encoding. Therefore, at first, we generated a tag response in bit streams which
was encoded using Miller code and then we modulated the reader CW with this Miller-encoded tag response using ASK
modulation technique as shown in [Figure 8].
Figure 8 : Miller-encoded tag response
Click here to view
So, finally we get a typical backscattered tag response in an RFID system. This backscattered signal is tracked and received from
a desired signal direction of 0 using a simulated adaptive beam-former, which represents our proposed reader antenna.
Adaptive beam-former: For our proposed beam-former this study simulated an 8-sensor linear adaptive array where LMS
algorithm is utilized for the optimization of the main beam. Then, this study considered the tag response arriving from an angle of 0
and one interfering signal arriving from the second reader positioned at an angle of -60 with respect to the first reader. [Figure 9]
and [Figure 10] illustrate the final plot of the weighted array factor of our adaptive beam-former in rectangular and polar
coordinates consecutively. In [Figure 9], the array pattern of the proposed reader antenna is shown in rectangular coordinates.
Here we can see that the beam-former has a peak at the desired signal direction and a null at the second reader direction, that is,
the direction of the interference signal coming from the second reader.
Figure 9: Proposed reader antenna array pattern with approximate null at -60.
Click here to view
Figure 10: Proposed reader antenna beam pattern in polar axis.
Click here to view
The beam pattern of the antenna array is shown in polar coordinates in [Figure 10], where the main beam is steered to the desired
signal direction. In other directions there is no sensitivity; as a result the signals from those directions will not affect the first reader's
operation.
The normalized gain of the proposed reader antenna beam pattern is presented in [Figure 11]. It shows, the beam-former has a
peak at the desired signal direction and a deep null at the interference signal direction. The main lobe gain at the desired signal
direction is 0 dB and the highest side-lobe gain is about -25 dB, which indicates the significant ability of this proposed method to
suppress the side-lobe levels.
Figure 11: Proposed reader antenna gain in dB.
Click here to view
As a result, we can say, this method not only provides deep null at the direction of interference but also suppresses the side-lobe
levels significantly at other directions with the preservation of our desired signal. So, our proposed method will definitely help the
reader to ignore any reader signal thus mitigating the interference problem.
Received tag response: The resultant array output of the proposed beam-former after receiving the tag response from the direction
of interest is shown in [Figure 12]. Now, if compared with the backscattered tag response shown in [Figure 8], a small distortion
can be found in the received signal until about only 60 iterations. But after that, the entire received signal is completely same as the
tag response. Therefore, it is evident that the proposed method can completely detect the desired signal after only 60 iterations.
05/08/13 A Solution to the RFID Reader Interference Problem using Adaptive Beam-forming Approach Sayeed MI, Kim YS, Yang H, Yook JG - IETE Tech Rev
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Figure 12: Array output of the proposed reader antenna
Click here to view
5.3 Third Simulation
In this final simulation, this study tried to evaluate the performance of our proposed method compared to a typical RFID system in
terms of BER using Monte Carlo simulation technique for different SNR environments, which is presented in [Figure 13] as a
function of SNR in dB. For this simulation, authors have generated and transmitted 1,000,000 random bits which were received
by our proposed adaptive beam-former-based reader antenna. To keep this simulation as realistic as possible, authors considered
one interference signals from the second reader and an AWGN noise. Then, both the generated and received bits for different
SNR environments were compared to acquire.
Figure 13: Comparison between the proposed adaptive beam-forming approach and the
typical reader approach for different SNR environments
Click here to view
In the plot, the dashed line indicates the BER vs. SNR response for the proposed Adaptive Beam-forming Approach (ABA) and
the continuous line represents the same for typical reader approach (TRA). It comprises of two individual figures representing the
same result for different bands of SNR values. The first figure shows the BER comparison between the proposed adaptive beam-
forming approach and the typical reader approach for SNR values from 2 dB to 20 dB. Here, the performance of the adaptive
beam-forming approach is about 3 dB better than that of the typical reader approach for BER value 210
-4
. In the second
figure, BER comparison between the proposed adaptive beam-forming approach and the typical reader approach was shown for
SNR values from 6 dB to 24 dB. The performance of the proposed adaptive beam-forming approach is about 4.5 dB better than
the typical reader approach for BER value 110
-5
.
As expected, BER decreases exponentially and the performance of the proposed adaptive beam-forming approach improves as
SNR increases. For higher SNR values, the performance of the proposed adaptive beam-forming approach gets better and better
compared to the typical reader approach. Moreover, the amount of BER is very small compared to the number of bits
transmitted. Finally, analyzing the results this study can conclude that our proposed method not only can effectively respond to any
desired signal direction with high gain beam and generate deep nulls at the direction of other readers to avoid interference but can
also completely detect the desired signal from the direction of our interest in a densely deployed RFID system. It is also very
efficient in terms of BER.
6. Conclusion and Future Works
Nowadays, RFID is increasingly being used in many applications such as inventory management, object tracking, retail checkout
etc. Multiple reader environments is essential for many of these applications to read multiple tags efficiently with faster speed,
highest accuracy, better interference mitigation ability and improved capacity. But it will certainly lead to the reader interference
problem if no preventive measures are taken. Therefore, solving the reader interference problems in a multiple or dense reader
RFID system is very crucial prior to the large-scale deployment of this kind of systems as performance, speed and reliability of the
whole system highly depends on our ability to solve this problem efficiently. In this work, authors studied the existing approaches
to solve the reader interference problems and presented the concept of using adaptive beam-forming technique for the mitigation
of reader interference problems in a multiple or dense reader RFID environment. Theoretically, adaptive beam-forming technique
is quite suitable for the task because the algorithm creates deep nulls in the direction of interference. To validate this idea and its
superiority over a standard technique, three separate computer-simulated experiments were carried out with two RFID readers.
Simulation results confirm that the proposed method can effectively respond to any desired signal direction with a high gain beam
and generate deep nulls at the direction of other readers to avoid interference. It also suppresses the side-lobe levels significantly
at other directions with the preservation of desired signal. As adaptive beam-forming has the capability of creating deep nulls at
the direction of interference and respond to the direction of desired signal, there will be no sensitivity at the direction of other
readers and there would not be any interference due to their operation. Thus interference between readers could be easily
avoided. Conversely, tags are separated in different sub-spaces which allow them to be distributed in the same time slot and
frequency. Thus there will be a definite reduction in the tag side collision too. Hence, unlike the other previously proposed
methods, the proposed method is inherently quite capable of mitigating both types of interference problems simultaneously.
Moreover, this method is also very efficient in terms of BER and energy consumption. In the real deployment, each reader needs
to have a smart antenna array with adaptive beam-forming algorithm implemented. If all the readers are assumed to be static, the
beam-forming direction can be decided initially for a while before starting the tag reading. If mobile readers are assumed, the
adaptive beam-forming algorithm needs to be updated instantly to adjust the beam-former response with the changed situation. In
such case, two separate processes can be used in the reader; one for effectively creating deep nulls at the direction of interference
and respond to the desired signal direction periodically and the second for synchronization between the readers. The proposed
mechanism was applied to the simulated system with two fixed readers and simulation with more than two readers should also be
similar as the mechanism can create deep null in the direction of other readers to avoid interference. For the same reason, this
method can also support the mobile reader environment. In this study, we restrict our scope in the establishment of the concept.
We leave the rigorous testing and real implementation of the idea as future work.
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Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), Korea, under the Information Technology
Research Center (ITRC) support program supervised by the Institute of Information Technology Assessment (IITA), (IITA-
2009-C1090-0902-0038).

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Authors
Md. Sakil Ibne Sayeed received his B. Sc. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Ahsanulaah University
of Science and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2003. He received his M.E. in Electronic and Radio
Engineering from Kyung Hee University, Suwon, South Korea in 2010. He is currently working at the Rural
Electrification Board, Bangladesh. His main research interests are in the area of RFID, Adaptive Beamforming
and Renewable Energy.
Young Soo Kim received Ph.D. from Arizona State University in 1988. He is currently a Professor for
Department of Electronics and Radio Engineering in Kyung Hee University, Suwon, South Korea. His main
research interests are in the area of signal processing, RFID, Adaptive Beamforming, Physical layer of Software
Radio, Communication theory etc.
Hoongee Yang received the PhD degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the State University of
New York at Buffalo, Amherst, NY, in 1992. From 1993 he has been in the Department of Radio Science and
Engineering, Kwangwoon University, Seoul, Korea. His main research interests are the receiver design of the
ultrawide-bandwidth communications, array signal processings and the RFID reader/tag design.
Jong-Gwan Yook was born in Seoul, Korea. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electronics engineering
from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, in 1987 and 1989, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree from The University
of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, in 1996. He is currently a Professor with the School of Electrical and Electronic
Engineering, Yonsei University. His main research interests are in the areas of theoretical/numerical
electromagnetic modeling and characterization of microwave/millimeter-wave circuits and components, design of
radio frequency integrated circuits (RFIC) and monolithic microwave integrated-circuit (MMIC), analysis and optimization of
high-frequency high-speed interconnects, including RF microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), based on frequency as well as
time-domain full-wave methods, and development of numerical techniques. Recently, his research team is developing various
biosensors, such as carbon-nano-tube RF biosensor for nanometer size antigen-antibody detection as well as remote wireless vital
signal monitoring sensors.
Figures
05/08/13 A Solution to the RFID Reader Interference Problem using Adaptive Beam-forming Approach Sayeed MI, Kim YS, Yang H, Yook JG - IETE Tech Rev
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9], [Figure 10], [Figure 11],
[Figure 12], [Figure 13]
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