Tuesday, April 11, 2006

RFID: Trolley Scan's RFID-radar

Poof! There goes another layer of your privacy.

Trolley Scan of Johannesburg, South Africa has announced the delivery of the first commercialized version of "RFID-radar" to a European IT company.

RFID-radar enables a system user to accurately measure the distance travelled by a signal from a transponder to a reader. This provides users with the unique coordinates of a tagged entity, accurate to within 0.5 meters.

Let's say that you buy a ticket to a hockey game. That ticket is RFID-chipped to track your entry and exit through the RFID-rigged gate. Conventional RFID operates with a pass/fail system. When your ticket (and presumably you) pass through the entry gate, you are identified as being inside the rink. Somewhere. When you pass through the exit gate, you're identified as being outside the rink. Somewhere.

RFID-radar turbo-narrows the scope of "somewhere". You're no longer simply inside or outside the rink. You are now trackable to within a few feet of your skin.

If you think that's not a new capability of RFID, think again. Conventional RFID has a fairly limited read range. Until now, you would have had to install RFID readers every 10-25 feet to achieve this degree of scrutiny.

RFID-radar accomplishes this with only one reader, up to 300 feet away.

According to Mike Marsh, Managing Director of Trolley Scan, "RFID-radar will result in the development of an entire new set of applications for computer based equipment. As all measurements are performed from one set of antennas, the equipment can even be mounted on a forklift truck to locate goods in a warehouse relative to the current position of the vehicle."

Although he declined to give any details, Marsh said that Trolley Scan has been asked to install RFID-radar on a helicopter.

I can see it now: Here comes the zamboni! Quick, cover yourself in foil!

Monday, April 03, 2006

RFID: The Hunter Becomes The Hunted

I don't remember the last time RFID made me LOL, but this sure did.

The Gillette Company applied RFID smart labels to all cases and pallets of their new Fusion razors shipped to 400 retail stores. On the issue of which retailers and which locations, Gillette is predictably vague. (They refuse to say)

On the issue of their own financial gain, Gillette is predictably pointed. According to Gillette, RFID enabled them to get the razors on store shelves in three days - eleven days faster than a typical product launch.

Here's the funny part: Gillette also tagged their promotional displays and tracked them to, and within, the 400 mystery stores. If a retailer took too long to move the razors or the promotional display to the sales floor, Gillette contacted the store manager and "requested" that they get the lead out. Ha!

I wonder how many retailers factored that into their business case for RFID.