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UHF passive radio-frequency identification technology is rapidly evolving from simple labeling of things to wireless pervasive sensing. A remarkable number of scientific papers demonstrate that objects in principle can have their physical properties be remotely tracked and monitored all along their life cycle. The key background is a new paradigm of antenna design that merges together the conventional communication issues with more-specific requirements about sensitivity to time-varying boundary conditions. This paper presents a unified review of the state of the art of the tag-as-sensor problem. Particular care is taken to formalize the measurement indicators and the communication and sensing tradeoff, with the purpose to provide a first knowledge base for facing a large variety of emerging sensing applications.