Santa Uses RFID!

Wal-Mart implements its RFID tag based inventory tracking system Saturday. This system should lower Wal-Mart's inventory tracking costs. With Wal-Mart, lower costs generally translates to lower prices for consumers shopping its retail stores. More here and here.

Wal-Mart's deployment of RFID tags continues to launch some so-called 'privacy advocates' into tongue wagging mode. For example:
But privacy advocates are concerned the technology will open the door to allow retailers to "follow" merchandise from the store shelf into a customer's home.
What Wal-Mart's involvement has done is make this technology real," said Katherine Albrecht, founder and director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), an industry watchdog group. "These corporations using RFID are playing with a dangerous technology. It has the potential to eradicate our privacy.
The biggest concern is that the technology will lead to tracking a consumer's buying habits and that those habits will be shared with other businesses and the government without their permission.
Not to advocate such activity, but these folks are rather late to the issue. Technologies that enable tracking consumer habits has been in place for some time now. RFID tags simply allow consumer tracking to happen at a faster pace. As far as I can tell, these folks don't seem concerned by deployment of similar tracking technology as part of the EZ-Pass toll system.

On other fronts:
  • Sporting events: Several professional football teams are considering installation of Smart System Technologies. preppie system (WSJ, link requires subscription) to speed access to football games.

  • Higher Education: [Co]lleges have introduced the [RFID encoded| cards to allow students access to hostels and monitor their classroom attendance. Students only need to swipe his or her card at a reader to record their attendance. At Pune University's Jayakar library, for instance, members don't return books to a librarian or register the books they borrow at a counter behind which the librarian sits. He or she simply places a smart card on one of the three "readers" or devices in the library and the books are automatically registered in his or her account.

    For added effect, attendance data can be uploaded on the Internet and even accessed by parents.

  • Casinos: "show a keen interest in the technology as a way to track customers from the moment they hit the gaming tables."

  • Even Santa is using RFID!
In that case, Christmas shopping 2005 sould benefit from lower prices made possible by the expading adoption of RFID tracking systems.

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