RFID – changing the way we think about inventory management. Again.

rfid chip

Image via Wikipedia

RFID – what a great idea. The technology has been around for some time now and has revolutionised the way we do a lot of things. Tracking inventory, access cards, tracking hospital trolleys – there are numerous applications that translate to better security and overall a better way of keeping track of things.

But now it looks like we are entering a new phase for the technology. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, RFID tags have been getting much cheaper. A few years ago the average price of an RFID tag was about 50 cents but now it is closer to 7 to 10 cents a piece. This opens up many more possibilities and perhaps quite a different approach to the use of the technology.

Previously it was only economical to track items at the pallet level, but now Wal Mart is starting to track items like pairs of Jeans at the item level. This provides great labour saving impact for retailers – particularly in the area of stocktaking. Imagine being able to wave a handheld scanner over a pile of clothes and get an immediate picture of exactly what items you have in stock. It’s been possible for some time but now it looks like it is becoming economical.

As the price of the tags continues to fall it opens up many more possibilities for uses of the tags that we may not have thought of previously. It also opens up many more privacy issues as well – and the privacy advocates are already taking up a position.

On the opposite side of the fence I’m sure that there are also marketers who are rubbing their hands together thinking of the possibilities of using RFID to track the behaviour of their customers in stores.

I’m sure there will be interesting discussions ahead and it’s certainly a technology to watch.

As an interesting aside there was a rumour some time ago that Fidel Castro had an RFID chip inserted in his arm. If we was ever kidnapped his followers would be able to locate exactly where on the planet his arm was!

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