Radio frequency identification technology is crucial for the retail industry's future, but there is still a lot of resistance to it among consumers, according to Gerd Wolfram, managing director of IT at European retailer Metro Group.
Like U.S.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Metro is a major backer of using RFID to improve supply chain efficiency and avoid stock outages. In fact, Wolfram calls RFID the "key technology" at Metro.
Historically, the technology of choice for identifying items coming off a truck to the store has been barcodes, but that requires a person to be in the line of sight of the objects being scanned. In addition, barcoding can only identify a range of products. It doesn't allow for the identification of, for instance, a single bottle of soda. RFID, on the other hand, can identify separate objects. Metro is already using the technology in its supply chain processes to automate checks on the flow of inventory.
But the logistical benefits are only a beginning, he says. In five to 10 years, Wolfram envisions consumers owning a "smart fridge" with an RFID reader embedded in it that can automatically monitor the contents inside. If someone puts a bottle of milk inside, for instance, the smart fridge might wirelessly communicate that to a nearby PC or send a message over the internet to let the shopper know that it's there.
Source: Computerworld, http://computerworld.com
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