Thursday, 18 April 2013

The difference between GPS, RFID and RTLS

It can be difficult to tell the difference between these three acronyms, so let's start with their full names:

GPS- Global Positioning System
RFID- Radio Frequency Identification
RTLS- Real-Time Location System

All three of these technologies can and are used as location-based solutions. Which one to use depends on the industry you are in and area you are looking to cover. When sifting through the Ekahau blog, I came across a short, concise table describing the main differences:

RFID (Passive)
  • Outdoor location tracking technology for global tracking
  • Electronic identification technology that uses small, inexpensive, passive tags
  • Active tags are used for locating high-value assets and people in real time, enterprise-wide
  • Accuracy: 10+ meters
  • Accuracy: Only locatable next to RFID reader gates
  • Accuracy: Typically from sub-1 meter to 3 meters. Depends on WiFi infrastructure in place.
  • Usage: Smartphone consumer apps, car navigator
  • Usage: Warehousing, retail, other logistic
  • Usage: Asset management, staff safety, patient / consumer tracking. Mostly in healthcare

Ekahau's RTLS based solution in more detail, including it's Vision software application (the brains behind the operation):

RTLS solutions operating off the Wi-Fi network

I hope this helps distinguish the basic differences in these technologies. Any questions, comments or other interesting articles, please post below! 

For greater depth and applications of the above solutions, click here.


  1. Thank You Ascom... for the valuable information in this blog post. The Friendship Cube Group will be experimenting with RFID, GPS, and RTLS chip implants in our Friendship Cubes. Buyers could pay something like $15 for an RFID, $30 for a GPS, and $100+ for the RTLS Friendship Cubes.

    Our goal is for each of our silicon friendship cubes has all the benefits of chip implants. The six symbols on the friendship cube rotate to create an efficient digital visual binary alphabet. Each Friendship Cube is made from a soft silicon mold factory in China. Each Friendship Cube has an implanted wireless chip embedded in it, that transmits information to the Global Information Grid. This enables each Silicon Friendship Cube to be named kept track of via Geo-tags. If you play the “trade-up” game, you can still keep track of every friendship cube you have traded. Silicon Friendship Cubes are also recognizable by webcams and make for an awesome toy that provides hundreds of hours of valuable entertainment and education. The webcam pattern games teach visual tracking, hand eye coordination, pattern recognition, memory, strategy, communication, navigation, and teamwork.

    Good God, Ascom would make a great addition to our Friendship Cube Team. Connect with us and profit from our Friendship Cube sales.

  2. Ascom and most important blog very nice blog