RFID tags are in many of the products that we already buy today and the promise of RFID in the future is that we may not even have to stop at the register to checkout at the store. In the future, with prolific RFID tags more powerful than what we have today, all we might need to do is walk out the door with our carts and our total would be computed automatically. Today’s RFID technology, however, is prone to hacking, which was demonstrated when researchers were able to clone an RFID passport while driving by it.

Before we can get to the point where store inventories are able to be done in real-time using RFID tags, we need to have cheaper and more efficient methods of producing the tags and the tags need to hold more information and use less power. Researchers at Rice University and Sunchon National University in Korean are working on a joint project using RFID tags that are printed on a roll-to-roll process that uses inks embedded with carbon nanotubes.
The team is also working on increasing the range that the tags can be read from. Currently the printed tags can only be read from a very close distance to the transmitter. To be useful in inventorying an entire store or warehouse the tags need a range of about 300 meters.

Just imagine when everything you buy, wear, eat, etc. is tagged and can be read from a fifth of a mile away. Then with readers on every street corner like cameras are now, advertisers can flash ads customized to you. Stolen cars can be found instantly since each will have multiple tags. Same with a shoplifter’s items. And, as an added bonus, the police could jump in and protect you from that subversive book you just bought or that Twinkie which could eventually increase your health costs. And those selfish deviants who break every RFID tag they get would stand out like an untagged ghost in need of our help.

You’re always safe with your every move monitored. I can hardly wait!

  1. Floyd says:

    New product needed: a sensor and demagnetizer that disables RFID tags, just because.

  2. Winston says:

    “Just imagine when everything you buy, wear, eat, etc. is tagged and can be read from a fifth of a mile away.”

    Then the ad screens lining the walkways in “Minority Report” become a reality. And you are easily tracked wherever you go.

  3. World Shock says:

    Yes, the majority of this will be done with IPv6, which they say has more IP addresses then grains of sand.

    The NA Army needs to mobilize against this future threat!

    They should be handing out RFID jammers for Knighthoods of NA instead of some cheesy ring.

  4. GRtak says:

    I know Big Brother is watching. Now Corporations everywhere are too. Which is scarier?

  5. Mac Guy says:

    This is why I have an anti-RFID wallet and passport holder. Bought ’em at ThinkGeek.

  6. AC_in_Mich says:

    I remember the commercial from a few years ago – I think it was IBM that sponsored it – describing the same scenario – guy in bathrobe shuffling around the store then walking out without going through a register. What it DIDN’T show was when he got home and got the emails from his Health Insurance raising his rates cuz he bought a tube of Preparation H, the Police with a ticket cuz his tags showed he sped 5 miles over the speedlimit going back home, his wife wanting to know why he was buying condoms while she is on the pill, etc etc

    And then, of course, there is the Classic from ACLU on ordering a pizza


  7. RBG says:

    Those RFIDS will go just great with all the thousands of private cameras the size of a period that will someday found literally everywhere.


  8. Angel H. Wong says:

    I think the BDSM community is lightyears ahead of the mainstream. Know a good deal of people who use the RFIDs chips used in pets on their slaves.

  9. sargasso says:

    As a proponent and advocate of RFID in packaged foodstuffs and medical supplies, they are a full proof quality assurance and audit management tool. Criminal redirection of spoilt food, expired medicines and contaminated food additives, would be able to be detected at the point of sale.

  10. eightnote says:

    #9 That’s the theory, but is only good until people find a way around it. And they probably will. The road to hell is getting shorter and shorter.

  11. sargasso says:

    #10. I agree with you, as a “slow food” enthusiast and amateur chef. Since food packaging has made it impossible to smell, squeeze, taste and see fresh food before you buy it, and since the consumer is unable to choose what he eats as a consequence of the packaging, you will appreciate how much the RFID is a useful tool for consumers and not just for the authorities.

  12. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    300m reads are stupid…the reader would have all sorts of unintentional hits. Distance is good, but too much distance is a big problem.

    The top of the article posted above reads like RFID market noise from three years ago…the grocery cart scenario is still fantasy.

  13. Uncle Dave says:

    #9 & 11: I assume you meant ‘foolproof’, not ‘full proof’. And what is “slow food?”

  14. RSweeney says:

    PolyIC in Germany showed this with printed polymer inks ten years ago.

    The issue is not so much cost of the tags (which is important) but instead the cost of a missed read.

    RF physics and propagation are very shaky around metals and conductive liquids, and nanotubes ain’t gonna fix this and bring the millennium of end-to-end logistics visibility.


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