Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips will soon be used in
stores at point-of-sale checkout to replace cashiers. Sensors can
detect purchases and automatically charge your ATM or credit card – or direct you to a cash machine.
Merchants eliminate cashiers, and in our competitive world, some of
the savings gets passed on to customers in lower prices.
Wal-Mart recently ordered 100 of its suppliers to place
RFID tags on pallets and cases. They plan
to start with inventory control, and evolve into this new
technology over the coming years. Target, Home Depot, Kroger,
Safeway, and most other stores are expected to follow soon.
This revolutionary identification system also gives merchants
more security. If a certain Beverly Hills store had installed
RFID tags, a famous actress would not
have been caught shoplifting. Sensors would have detected her
purchases as she walked out the door, and automatically charged her
credit card – no harm no foul.
RFID chips can also be implanted in
our body. Whether it’s your little one’s first day walking home
from the bus stop alone, or the millionth time she’s wandered too
far from the house, a chip under her collarbone reports her exact
location. You chart her every move. This allows her to become more
independent, and it gives you greater peace of mind.
This is not as futuristic as it sounds. Driven by 9/11, the
Department of Homeland Security, in its US-VISIT program, is
testing biometrics in a $15 billion attempt to build a “virtual
border” around the country. This high-priority project will use
facial recognition, fingerprint, hand geometry, and iris and voice
recognition in an attempt to separate bad guys from good guys.
You enter the supermarket, grab an electronic shopping cart that
recognizes you from your touch, and begin tossing items into
pre-opened bags. The monitor on your “smart cart” not only displays
each item, its price, and total amount spent; but also subtracts
items returned to the shelf. Hold an item in your hand briefly and
its description appears on the monitor.
When finished shopping, simply tap a “chipped” finger indicating
which credit or debit card to use, or tap thumb for cash pay, which
directs you to an automated cash machine – then out the door. On
exit, select a security option to deactivate or encrypt all product
chips, preventing evildoers from tracking you or your
Though this futuristic scenario may still be a few years away,
Chicago and Dallas area stores are experimenting with “Shop ‘n
Scan”, a wireless scanner shoppers use to ring up groceries as they
take them off the shelf. Eventually, Albertson’s wants to integrate
this with other services that could one day become the precursor to
a scenario like the one described above.
Milwaukee futurist David Zach envisions a bright future for
RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification). “Chipped”
tickets to local Miller Park sporting
events, for example, allows management to recognize customers. Move
to a more expensive seat during the game, and the system debits
your account for the higher priced seat. (cont.)
The government of New Zealand is reportedly planning on tagging all cattle with
RFID chips by 2011. The development is a
harbinger of things to come for the U.S. agricultural industry. In
addition to letting farmers and ranchers track individual cattle by
the age, sex and breed, the chips will also allow agri-business to
monitor the animal all the way from the farm to your local grocery
This tracability will allow consumers to know everything from
what anti-biotics the animal was injected with, to whether it was
fed with organic feed and raised in a “free-range” environment. The
tracibility will also ensure that businesses and governments are
quickly able to recall meat in the event of a disease outbreak.
You enter the supermarket, grab an electronic cart that recognizes you from your touch, toss in some bags and begin shopping. The monitor on your ‘smart cart’ displays products, price, and total amount spent; and even subtracts items returned to the shelf.
As you wind through the aisles, the cart’s voice recognizes products you’re running low on, and offers special discounts just for you. When finished shopping, simply tap a ‘chipped’ finger indicating payment preference and walk out the door – no more lines or grocery clerks to deal with. On exit, select an option to deactivate or encrypt all chips, which protects your privacy by preventing evildoers from tracking you or your merchandise.
After putting items away at home, the milk might say, “I expire in nine days, would you like a 24-hour reminder”, or the hat you purchased may say, “Hey Dick, why not wear me now, you know how great I make you look”.
By 2012, experts believe the above scenarios could be happening at stores everywhere.
Milwaukee futurist David Zach agrees that voice-enabled chips will increase efficiency. Clothes could remark, “Don’t wash me with colors”; cars may cry out, “I need oil”, and a glass might tell the bartender, “he’s had enough”.
Wearable computer maker Vocollect believes their voice-enabled machines can team up with RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chips used to identify items, and create an enormous array of exciting applications.