Communicate with Infra Red Emitter and receiver?

I am trying to create a system where an individual can have a "badge" of some sort, and this "badge" would send a signal to a reciever (arduino) telling it who he is.. Could evenutally send just a number or frequence witch is previously linked to the persons ID. Can this be done with Infra-red Emitter and receiver? How? Where to start?

This is best done with an RFID system.

I hear that RFID is quite an expensive technology when we are talking about distances like 1 or 2 meters...

The main problem with using IR, is that the emitting and receiving angle, if that is not a problem i think it can be solved and cheaply, but i am no expert:)