Software, Firmware, & Middleware: What is the Difference?


A few different types of software are common components of most RFID systems – firmware, middleware, and application software. Though all of these components are technically software, their individual functions differentiate them into one of the aforementioned three categories.

Speedway Connect Software

Application Software

By definition, software is any set of machine-readable instructions that directs a computer’s processor to perform specific operations. Thousands of software applications are accessed daily by end-users, ranging from apps on our phones, to some more specialized applications such as software built for accessing and analyzing data collected by RFID systems. Speedway Connect Software is an example of a software application that provides a graphical user interface which allows users to interact directly with RFID hardware. Generally speaking, application software gives you the ability to get the data that you are looking for, how and when you need it.


Software that resides specifically on a hardware component is called firmware. Firmware controls the operation of the device on which it is hosted and does not typically initiate communication with external devices, such as PCs. Device firmware may be upgraded periodically to fix bugs and to add new functionality to the hardware component. An example of firmware is the Astra-Ex v4.19.2 for the ThingMagic Astra-Ex reader. This particular firmware version contained no new features; instead, its focus was on fixing bugs and improving stability.


Middleware is a piece of software that usually runs in the background. It essentially is the “glue” that holds two other pieces of software together and allows them to effectively communicate. A common use of RFID middleware is a service that communicates with and controls RFID readers in order to gather data, which then may be analyzed and stored in a database for consumption by a different user-facing application.


If you have any questions about firmware, or middleware, or other types of software applications, please contact us or leave a comment below.

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