I apologize if I make a grammar mistake...

I'm a telecommunications engineering student and I have an idea for my grad project. It would be something like a SmartBookshelf.

My idea is to implement a system on a bookshelf capable of knowing all the books that are on a bookshelf (is not necessary to know where exactly in the bookshelf they are, just that they are there). There will be other things, like a web page on which people can see their books and info about them, and a message will be sent by email if a book gets far from the bookshelf.

I thought about using RFID sticker tags on every book, and a scanner that knows if they are close using them. I'd like to know if there are affordable RFID scanners that can detect tags to at least one meter distance.

I found out about the 13.56MHz RFID Reader SL500, which looks affordable but I can't seem to find any info about it's range.

  • \$\begingroup\$ RFID's are intended to be isolated but Books are not. This will be a challenge to prevent multiple responders. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Feb 3 at 0:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I once scanned a bag containing of 50 RFID tags with a $20 scanner and got 50 distinct responses (I think they were mifare classic 1K tags). \$\endgroup\$ – Jasen Feb 3 at 1:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do it for my tools! \$\endgroup\$ – StainlessSteelRat Feb 3 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ RFID is not that super expensive. To get a range ~10m just use proper antenna. I made very similar system, just there where jars with food on the shelves. Each had an rfid sticker and a type of food programmed to it. \$\endgroup\$ – fifi_22 Feb 3 at 4:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Weigh the bookshelf. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Feb 3 at 11:21

You could also use machine vision + AI to detect what books are there, based on the writing on the spine. If they're tagged with an ISBN number, even better.

That's basically what Amazon Go does, but with a wider set of items. Your problem set is simpler, since you’re only recognizing books and text.

Using a visual method has the additional bonus of showing the location of the book, something RFID cannot do, realistically.


Gustavo, welcome to the board! Your idea of using RFID tags is a good one, so don't get discouraged quite so easily.

Many RFID systems are very short range, but they are designed for that purpose. RFID readers with longer range are certainly available. For example, many libraries have RFID "antennas" (actually coils) on each side of the entrance hall to detect books that have not been correctly checked out. The size of the coil roughly determines the range of the reader.

Also, although commercial RFID readers are costly, there are lots of DIY projects. You can start with experimenter kits, or build from scratch.

I'm not going to do the design for you here, but I encourage you to research this more as it could be educational and a useful project.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Switching antennas (eg using relays) could enable the scanner to read books in different parts of the shelf, (it would also give some indication of the book's approximate location) \$\endgroup\$ – Jasen Feb 3 at 1:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure those entrance coils are RFID? I'm pretty sure those are the usual magnetic-resonant sensors used at lots of stores. \$\endgroup\$ – Hearth Feb 3 at 1:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ The rfid that can do what is required is uhf rfid. It can read multiple tags over many metres. @Hearth its a fair chance those antenna are for hf rfid. Very common for libraries. \$\endgroup\$ – Kartman Feb 3 at 1:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jansen, I looked for the scanner and tags that you mentioned, and they look really affordable; however, I cannot find a maximum range anywhere. I suppose it depends weather I use an antenna or not. I saw that you mentioned switching antennas using relays, but I don't entirely understand what that means. Could you explain it? \$\endgroup\$ – Gustavo Lozada Feb 3 at 16:35

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