No More Lines at the Supermarket

Bag as you shop
Imagine going to the grocery store, bagging your items as you shop, filling up your cart and walking right out the door. No longer will you have to wait as someone rings up each item in your cart one at a time. Instead, RFID tags will communicate with an electronic reader that will detect every item in the cart and ring each up almost instantly. The reader will be connected to a large network that will send information on your products to the retailer and product manufacturers. Your bank will then be notified and the amount of the bill will be deducted from your account. No lines, no waiting.
This will happen when the Universal Product Code (UPC) bar code is replaced by smart labels, also called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags are intelligent bar codes that can talk to a networked system to track every product that you put in your shopping cart.
No more limitations
RFID tags are an improvement over bar codes because the tags have read and write capabilities. Data stored on RFID tags can be changed, updated and locked. Some stores that have begun using RFID tags have found that the technology offers a better way to track merchandise for stocking and marketing purposes. Through RFID tags, stores can see how quickly the products leave the shelves and which shoppers are buying them.
Each tag works the same
• Data- stored within an RFID tag’s microchip waits to be read.
• The tag’s antenna receives electromagnetic energy from an RFID reader’s antenna.
• Using power harvested from the reader’s electro magnetic field, the tag sends radio waves back to the reader.
• The reader picks up the tag’s radio waves and interprets the frequencies as meaningful data.
Restaurants and RFID
Restaurants that previously delivered food to tables by having to hunt down numbered placards given to guests at the time they ordered have begun working with RFID. Counter employees provide the customer with an RFID device that resembles a drink coaster. The employee also enters an identification number on the device into the POS system that correlates to the transaction number on order tickets at the expeditor station.
The technology tracks order time beginning with payment, when the cashier slides the broadcaster device over an “initializing unit” before handing it to the guest. It continues tracking the transaction through the time a food runner, who has delivered the order, returns the broadcaster device to the front counter and halts the timing process by passing it over a “clearing unit.”
RFID and your Smartphone
RFID is even being put on Smartphone. Once you walk into your favorite coffee shop and stand in front of the register the RFID reader will bring up your name, picture, and your order history on the computer screen without saying a word. And then it will even bill your credit card!
Putting your information at risk
Since RFID tags can be attached to clothing,possessions, or even implanted within people, the (possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent raises many privacy concerns.
As the technology grows beyond the test phase, tags on products will be programmed to respond only to authorized readers. The industry is also working on stronger encryption than what is available now. But so are the ID hackers!
Threat of Identity Theft
Nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. With RFID an ID thief could sit on a park bench and using a “reader”, collect everyone’s personal information as they walked by!
Let’s not get too excited about exposing our personal information and proceed with caution.