4 Things You Didn’t Know about RF (radio frequency) Wireless Modules

When you think of radio frequency (RF) wireless modules, you probably think of handheld radios like walkie-talkies or maybe even the radios in your car. However, there are so many more devices that actually use RF modules, and most of them we use almost every day. The radio frequency spectrum covers the band from 3 kHz to 300 GHz, which is a massive range and covers devices with a vast array of uses. Here are four amazing facts about RF modules that you might not have known.

1. You very likely use them every day
When most people hear the word “radio”, they aren’t likely to think that it actually applies to more things than just an FM radio. Tons of devices use RF modules to operate. Here’s some of the most popular:

  • Wi-Fi devices and routers
  • Bluetooth
  • RF smart cards
  • Near-field communication
  • some newer remote controls
  • household alarm systems
  • microwaves

2. Radio waves can actually harm you
While the RF spectrum bands chosen for everyday devices are chosen for their long range and safety, there are certain parts of the spectrum that can inflict significant harm to your body. Think microwaves specifically. Yes, microwaves actually use radio waves to cook your food. And perhaps you’ve seen those movies where people stick their heads in a microwave and they explode. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but they can cause burns to the skin, blistering, and possibly cataracts with exposure to the eyes. So you still don’t want to stick anything in there.

3. RF modules can charge batteries
New types of charging technology utilize RF modules to charge devices wirelessly. While your smartphone is most likely to use inductive charging, which is different, this type of technology could possibly overtake inductive charging if the technology becomes more efficient. Now, however, it’s used with smaller batteries like those in hearing aids or smart glasses and has shown to be really useful for those purposes.

There are some specific advantages over inductive wireless charging. Specifically, you don’t need to place them on a pad or in a certain orientation to work. The device just needs to be placed near enough to the charger, and the waves will be absorbed and converted to DC current by a special chip inside your device.

4. You use them to pay for your food…or whatever
Ever heard of near-field communication (NFC)? Maybe you’ve heard of their more popular names Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. These services use a small RF module in your device to communicate with a reader present at the point of sale. The specific frequency chosen for NFC transmits only a few centimeters, so your device needs to be right next to or in some cases touching the reader for it to work.

Still though, you might want to turn off NFC when you’re not using it. A particularly savvy hacker could theoretically touch a device to the pocket carrying your NFC-equipped device by rubbing up against you and claim your personal information. The risk is pretty minimal these days, though.



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