Why microchips cannot be located?
Many pet owners want to know where their pet is. So a lot of animal friends ask whether RFID chips can be
located via GPS. To answer this question we take a look at the basics of the GPS technology and what is
necessary to locate something. Then we can discuss the benefits of the RFID technology.
GPS - Global Positioning System
Developed by the US military and later allowed for civil use later, GPS is used in many devices in our everyday
lives. Navigation systems make it easier for us to orientate on the roads, seas and in the air. Every modern
smartphone is equipped with a GPS receiver. This makes it possible to get location-based services such as
automated weather reports or information on sights.
There is a wide spread misunderstanding that things are locatable via GPS but this is not true! How does GPS
function? The satellites in the earth’s orbit send their position and time continuously. The navigation system
receives these signals and calculates its own position based on this information. First, the distance from the
navigation device to minimum 4 satellites is calculated based on the time difference of the device and the
satellite. Now you can imagine this distances as a radiuses of circles around the satellites. Where this circle
lines cross the navigations device is located. But the satellites cannot know your devices location because it
doesn’t send any signals. So a location from outside is not possible.
What is necessary in addition to GPS for location?
If you want to know the location of a device from the outside of it, the device has to communicate its position.
Therefor a sender is necessary e.g. if you want to send via internet you will need a UMTS or LTE sender module.
To make a short conclusion: The device receives signals from the satellites. This information is used to calculate
the position of itself. The position information has to be sent e.g. via LTE Internet. Something can be located
only this way.
Why microchips cannot be located?
The components needed for tracking or locating are too big to fit in a tag only 1,4×8,5 mm small:
- GPS receiver with antennas
- High precision clock with time sync function
- LTE module with SIM card
- Battery for energy supply
There are animal tracking devices out there, which can be placed on the collar.
What are the benefits of RFID technology?
The battery of tracking devices has to be charged regularly. This is the reason that the device can’t be placed
under the animal’s skin. Those trackers can not be used for theft prevention because they can be taken off
easily. If the battery is empty the device stops to work at all. To charge the battery you need to remove the
tracker so the animal is unprotected during charging. In areas with bad GPS and LTE reception a tracking is not
possible as well.
The animal and you as the owner can’t be identified from a finder because no information can be stored on the
LTE and other services needed cost monthly fees and you need an internet connection.
RFID chips don’t need energy supply or a battery, because they are working passively. The chips are extremely
tiny and are suitable for small animals and they stay marked for their whole life span. In connection with a
registration you as the owner can be easily identified. Once bought and set there are no additional costs.
Therefore, we can recommend animal trackers only in addition to a microchip but not as its replacement.