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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

RFID chips promise an exciting future; maybe too exciting

RFID (radio frequency identification) chips have been around for close to a decade. Their best use is in inventory control where they surpass the conventional bar code because they do not have to be in close proximity to the scanner-just within radio range. Imagine being able to open the rear doors of a 40ft trailer filled with Levis and being able to identify every pair without even entering the trailer. Like the bar code the rfid chip reaches the zenith of its power when it is configured with a database. Suppose this pair of Levis finds its way into a Costco or Walmart store. With the rfid chip sewn into the waist band at the factory, probably somewhere in the the Philippines or Indonesia, the stocker or clerk can know the retail price, the store's cost, waist, length, color, location and time of production.
Now it gets interesting! As you check out each item is scanned at the register. All you see is the price but the scanner records other selected data which are used to compile a customer profile on you. Just as Amazon sends you email when items similar to what you purchased go one sale Walmart, Costco, Target et al will be able to target you with individualized advertising. At sometime in the future you'll walk into a Walmart, pass a large flat screen panel, and be known instantly by the rfid chip on the credit card in your pocket or purse.
"Hello, Mr. Smith thank you for coming to Walmart. Please find your favorite Levis in aisle 19. We've noticed your belt size has increased two inches over the last year. You may want to consider going with a relaxed fit pair of Levis or Wrangler jeans. Currently we have in stock 4 Levi and 7 Wrangler jeans in your size. Also, we are pleased to tell we have your favorite Planters Lightly Salted Cashew Halfs on sale, today only, for $4.98 and if you worry about those extra inches on your waist you may want to peruse our stock of Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig meals in aisle 4. Again thank you for shopping at Walmart."
With woman this could get dicey to the point of sexual harassment as intimate apparel sizes would also be recorded and telling, in effect, a woman that her ass is getting bigger might lead to worse consequences than loss of customers. Retailers will need to use caution here and that's before it has to deal with the transgendered crowd.
The beauty of this system of the future, aside from personal security concerns, is after a rfid chip is affixed to all merchandise there will be no need to check out or even flash your credit card. Simply pick up your purchases, walk past the scanner, and every item in your cart will be charged to the credit card in your pocket.
Just as friend or foe transponders on aircraft cannot be turned off since they are powered by the radar waves they receive; rfid chips cannot be turned off as they are powered by the energy from the scanner. Most likely billfolds of the future will have a faraday cage built into them. In the video below the demonstration uses a low power scanner. A higher powered scanner could be used from across the room or across the street. It's a brave new world!

1 comment:

  1. It's Minority Report.

    And every other sci-fi book and movie ever written.