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MIPRO 2014, 26-30 May 2014, Opatija, Croatia

Cash Register Lines Optimization System Using

RFID Technology
D.Budi, . Martinovi, D. imuni
Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing / Department of Wireless Communications
Unska 3, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
By doing business the old way, retail chains don't use all the
potential of developed technologies in order to increase their
efficiency. Cash register lines optimization system uses RFID
(Radio Frequency Identification) technology to follow the
number of shopping carts and baskets in front of cash register.
Developed system consists of RFID reader and passive RFID
tags with assigned ID. System works on ultra-high frequency
(UHF, 868 MHz) with long range (up to 15m) which enables
development of protocols using simultaneous communication
between reader and tags. One reader can collect data from 8
antennas at the same time. Concept of following shopping carts
and baskets using RFID is based on backscatter coupling which
enables powering RFID tags with energy from magnetic field of
the reader. System uses SQLite3 database and Python 2.7
programming language. Web application is written using
JavaScript jQuery framework and HTML/CSS Twitter
Bootstrap framework. Also, for sending SMS, mail2sms
technology is used. JSON via HTTP protocol is used for
communication between reader and server and between server
and web application. In order to inform the store manager, SMS
is generated. Web application is used for tracking the whole
system. Statistics integrated in web application enable store
managers to organize employees in advance considering
observations from past periods.

More and more retail chains today have the need for
automated monitoring of the number of customers in cash
register lines in real time. Previously developed systems
have proved to be insufficiently effective because they
involved additional and unpleasant interaction between
customers and employees or monitoring in the way that
threatens the privacy of customers. To avoid such
problems, it was necessary to design different solution
which would implement new technologies.
There are many different jobs that employees can do:
working in bakery department, cash register, placing the
products on the shelves etc. Store managers have the task
to distribute employees in the most efficient way. The
decision about distribution can be made on the basis of
real-time status analysis, statistical analysis and
combination of the two methods. Real-time distribution
means that the store manager has the data based on the
real-time status of the store, and statistical analysis can
assume what the distribution should be based on the
previous observations. Combination of the two methods


provides better precision because it considers previous

observations and real-time status analysis.
System has the task to collect and analyze data that
can be used for concluding how many customers wait in
the cash register lines. In case where system concludes
that there are more customers that it can be handled in
optionally given time frame, it is necessary to warn the
store manager that conditions are met where it is needed
to redistribute workers in the way that more people work
on cash registers. Also, store manager is warned when too
few customers are in the lines so some cash registers
should be closed and extra workers redistributed on other
jobs. All collected data is permanently stored in the
database. In every moment it can be used to offer insight
into real-time status and statistical analysis status [1].
Technology that makes development of system like
this possible is RFID.


RFID is the wireless non-contact use of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the
purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags
attached to objects. Every RFID system consists of
several basic elements:


Figure 1: RFID reader Motorola FX9500

Antenna and tags 

cell) which is used for powering the chip. This means that
electromagnetic field of the reader isn't necessary for
powering like it is necessary with the passive tags. This
feature enables using the reader with weaker field to
transfer data. Tags also vary in memory capacity. 1-bit
tags have only one bit of memory that stores 1 if the tag is
in the field and 0 if tag isn't in the field. Other tag type is
the one with ID stored in the memory by the factory.
Third type is the one that has enough memory for storing
ID and extra data (by the user). Tags are produced in
plastic and glass housing in shape of coin, sticker,
capsule, little box and card [2].
RFID uses the low-end of the electromagnetic spectrum
and signal strenght is limited

Figure 2: RFID antenna and tag

The RFID UHF signal strenght is defined under ISO/IEC

18000-6:2004standards. Signal strenght can be in range
mW up to several mW and therefor can not represent
danger for human health.

RFID systems differ in operating frequency, coupling,

range, memory type and battery presence in the tag.
Operating frequency is the one that reader uses for
impulsion. The different transmission frequencies are
classified into the three basic ranges:

 Low frequency (LF) from 30 to 300 kHz 





(HF/RF) from 3 to 30 MHz 

 Ultra-high frequency (UHF) from 300 MHz to 3
GHz / microwave > 3 GHz 
A further subdivision of RFID systems according to
range allows us to differentiate between close-coupling
(0-1 cm), remote-coupling (0-1 m) and long-range (>1 m)
Close-coupling systems are coupled using both electric
and magnetic fields and does not rely upon the radiation
of fields because of closeness of the tag. Close-coupling
systems are primarily used in applications that are subject
to strict security requirements, but do not require a large
Almost all remote coupled systems are based upon an
inductive (magnetic) coupling between reader and
transponder. These systems are therefore also known as
inductive radio systems.
All long-range systems operate using electromagnetic
waves in the UHF and microwave range. The vast
majority of such systems are also known as backscatter
systems due to their physical operating principle. In
addition, there are also long-range systems using surface
acoustic wave transponders in the microwave range.
Ranges of 15 m and above can be achieved using active
(battery-supported) backscatter transponders.
Tags can be passive or active considering the battery
presence. Passive tags don't have any power source
(battery). Electromagnetic field of the reader provides all
the energy necessary for tag to work via tag antenna. This
means that the emitted energy of the reader is used to
transfer data from reader to tag and from tag to reader.
Active tags have their own power source (battery or solar



The idea is to put readers and antennas on cash
registers and tags on shopping carts and baskets. When a
tag on the shopping cart or basket is read as present for a
certain period of time in front of cash register, system
recognizes that the customer is standing in that line. This
way it can be determined how long is the line in front of
cash register and in case that it is too long, system sends
SMS to store manager that more cash registers should be
open. Also, if the lines are too short, store manager gets
information that some case registers should be closed.
We wanted to make the system as simple as possible to
modify for additional demands and to integrate in existing
store system. Because of that, the whole system is divided
into three separate entities:

 Pinkie part of the system in charge of reading

ID from tags 
 Brain part of the system that stores collected
data into database and processes them to
become data useful to store manager 
 Protocol part of the system that enables
communication between Pinkie and Brain

Figure 3: Shema of the system

A. Pinkie
Pinkie presents part of the system in charge of RFID
technology. When a cash register is opened, antenna
reading is automatically turned on in front of that cash
register. Every reading first comes to the reader that has
embedded software. That software enables data
manipulation using modified built-in functions that are
required for correct data reading.
Reader can be configured to send signals to the tags at
specified time intervals. Constant reading ensures greater
accuracy, but creates data redundancy. For this reason,
reader functions can be modified in the way that the rest
of the system gets an update only if there is a change in
the system. Eg., a particular tag enters the antenna field
so the reader reads its ID and sends the information to the
rest of the system because the change in the system
occurred. Since we do not want to read data every second
of the time that tag remains in the field of antenna, a
modified function sends an alert only if the tag gets out of
the field of the antenna. Additional functionality is
reading multiple tags at the same time and ignoring tag
readings that are in the antenna field too short.
For the purpose of testing the developed software
solution for optimization of cash register lines using
RFID technology, we used Motorola FX9500 fixed RFID
reader (868 MHz) that supports .NET and C as API
support [3]. Also, passive tags in thicker plastic housing
that have ID memory have been chosen (due to better
work with metal surfaces). Used antenna is circularly
polarized (dimension 24.5x23.5 cm).

C. Protocol
To make parts of the system communicate with each
other, it is necessary to implement communication
protocol. For this system we used sending of JSON
(JavaScript Object Notation) through HTTP protocol.
JSON is an open standard format that uses humanreadable text to transmit data objects consisting of
attribute-value pairs. It is used primarily to transmit data
between a server and web application.
HTTP protocol is an application protocol that defines
format (JSON in this case) and the way of message
transportation between client and server.
D. Results and additional functionalities
Figures 4, 5 and 6 show results of developed system:

Figure 4: Web application

B. Brain
Brain is in charge of storing, processing and displaying
of received data. Data sent by Pinkie is stored in the
database. Used database is Open Source SQLite3. To
make collected data visible to store managers, we
developed web application that can run on mobile phone,
computer and tablet. Web application enables a graphical
representation of the real-time status and status in
selected period of time (so the statistical analysis can be
performed). Also, web application (whose interface has
automatic update every few minutes) sends SMS to store
manager in the need for redistribution of employees. Data
processing is written in Python 2.7 programming
language. Web application is created using JavaScript
jQuery and HTML/CSS Twitter Bootstrap framework
that gives functionality like buttons or drop-down menu
to the application. Sending of SMS is implemented using
mail2sms technology.


Figure 5: Cash register statistics

Cash register lines optimization system using RFID
offers automated monitoring of number of customers in
cash register lines without uncomfortable interaction
between customers and employees of the store and also
without threatening customers privacy. The whole system
is designed to be easily upgradable with many additional
features and integrated with already existing solutions in
stores. All the newest technologies in the field of RFID
wireless communications and also web applications have
been used.
Figure 6: Real-time cash register state
Additional implemented functionality is basket
counter. In front of every cash register stands a place
where used baskets are collected. System offers
automated monitoring of number of baskets to warn a
store manager that collected baskets have to be removed.
Functionality is developed the same way as the rest of the

For further development, we recommend using active

tags to reach an optimal range of 12 m. Also, for better
communication between tag and the reader, we
recommend using narrow radiation pattern antenna.


D. Budi, Cash register lines optimisation Documentation,

K.Finkenzeller, RFID Handbook, 3rd ed., John Wiley & Sons,
Ltd., 2010., pp. 13-28.
Product Spec Sheet Motorola FX9500 Fixed RFID Reader
J.P.Curty, M. Declercq, C.Dehollain, N.Joehl, Design and
optimization of passive UHF RFID systems, Springer 2007, New