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NYT: Wal-Mart Slows RFID Plans, Suppliers Resist

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the still-coming-tho' dept.

Technology 188

securitas writes "The New York Times' Barnaby Feder reports that Wal-Mart has scaled back its plans to deploy RFID tags because the majority of its top 100 suppliers will not be able to meet the Jan. 1, 2005 deadline that the retailer demanded. Suppliers are resisting Wal-Mart's RFID demand for a variety of reasons according to AMR Research. Only 40 suppliers will meet the deadline, with two suppliers 'so tied up in a complete overhaul of their entire information technology infrastructure that they have put off attempting to introduce radio tagging.' A more pragmatic reason for the delay is that 'no one who uses the technology has systems that can reliably read the information 100 percent of the time in factories, warehouses and stores; Wal-Mart said the rate was around 60 percent in its stores.' It's hard to make the case that RFID will help track inventory when you can't reliably find 40% of it."

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The way Wal-Mart is (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190541)

Walmart aslo wants %100 or more out of it's works too

Re:The way Wal-Mart is (1)

occupied (94819) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190697)

I give up

Re:The way Wal-Mart is (1)

occupied (94819) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190784)

I have no wish to comment on Wal-Mart.

I am trying to find out how to enter a general comment or message to the Slashdot community.
With a succinct heading. This might result in a thread, but most likely not.

Seriously. I think such should be explained, or at least in the "help" bit, if there is any. :-)
Don't expect any help from Linux people.
In my experience they are agressively RTFB. Even there is no FB.

Unless people can do this, it's going to get a bit fetid in there (here?) isn't it?
Or is it already?

I get the impression this is a closed group of gentlemen generating moisture and excitement by some sort of rubbing between their loins.

Cheers, Robin

Bad title (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190542)

The title makes it sound as though Wal-Mart's suppliers are resisting the slowing of the introduction of RFID, while the truth is quite the reverse - that the slow-down is happening because of supplier resistence, not despite it.

Re:Bad title (2, Insightful)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190550)

should have read "Wal-Marts' RFID Plans Slowed"

Re:Bad title (5, Insightful)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190560)

It isn't even supplier resistance - they simply cannot get it implemented in time.

Walmarts great 'do as we say - sell for the price we say - dont be late - fuck you in general' policy may just be a little too oppresive after all.

It would be good if the suppliers could get a little more power back because of this.

Re:Bad title (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190994)

Walmarts are a scourge on society.

Yes, I used to shop there. No, I don't any more.

I am willing to pay a little more for things that I need if my money is going to "stay local". For this reason, I don't shop at Walmart and, instead, give business to the local "mom and pop" concern.

They are suffering from what I term the "3G Effect". Any time you have a family business that grows into a large powerhouse, the 3rd generation of the family is the one that is spoiled / fucks up the company.

The 1st generation (the owner) cares about the business - its ideals, its goals, its employees. He / she treats it like another child, caring for it and nurturing it. Generally, it is not an evil company.

As the company grows and the children of the owner come into the business (2nd generation), things generally stay the same. The 2Gers respect the company and their parent. They saw the hard work and dedication that went into the company and want it to continue along the original path.

When the grand-children come on board (3G), they've only ever seen the company at the top - they've never seen the hard work that went into it. When it's their turn at the controls, usually just after the owner kicks, they morph the company into a "how can we make the most money possible?" organization - forgetting the community and employees that the 1G and 2G dedicated themselves to. Sometimes, the 3Gers don't get involved in the company and just live as spoiled, ignorant brats (Paris, although you are a 4Ger, this means you!).

Now, I call it the "3G Effect" when, in fact, the schedule could be moved up or back. In the case of Walmart, as soon as Sam kicked, the kids really started decimating the company by going offshore for more goods and putting the screws to the manufacturers.

Enough of my tirade....

Re:Bad title (0)

HMA2000 (728266) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191130)

So basically you hate Wal Mart because of some "effect" you made up... even though Wal Mart doesn't adhere to the effect you made up.

Makes sense to me.

But hey, I don't mean to stand in the way of some good 'ol Walmart bashing. Lord knows they haven't done anything for anybody (well except for the millions of consumers that are able to more efficently spend their hard earned money.)

Re:Bad title (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191221)

So basically you hate Wal Mart because of some "effect" you made up... even though Wal Mart doesn't adhere to the effect you made up.

Made up? Gosh I remember when Wally World used to brag about being "Made in the USA" and you could actually find a decent product (at a reasonable price) on the shelves that was made in America.

Nowdays it's all about cheap off-shore shit that isn't even worth the price you pay for it. I won't shop at Wally World because all of the non-food items are cheap garbage (you get what you pay for) and I can get all of the food items almost as cheap (cheaper in a few cases) at Wegmans or the local supermarket chain.

And while I'm on this rant why is it when a European rants about American culture displacing his own everybody cheers for him (as well they should) but when an American rants about the loss of our culture and way of life (say goodbye to the middle class) we are called racist xenophobes?

Re:Bad title (1)

jgalun (8930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191144)

Serious question:

Why exactly is it good if the suppliers get power back? How does it help me, the consumer, for the suppliers to gain power against Walmart?

Re:Bad title (2, Insightful)

Shajenko42 (627901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191792)

Better to have power in the hands of many smaller companies than one large one.

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190543)

I thought RFID tags were supposed to be so cheap, it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg to implement them?

Re:Wait... (1)

tomjen (839882) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190559)

True but..
You need readers, a system to take the info from the readers (just a number) look it up in a database, download the real product info from database (price, what it is etc)

And we all know that new tecnologi is fool proff as soon as it is developed right?

Re:Wait... (5, Informative)

clone22 (252516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190595)

Suppliers were due to have ability to tag at the pallet/case level. At current tag prices that's not to bad of a hit. However, the tags are the trivial part of an implementation. It's getting the data from the tags into your information infrastructure that will kill you. I've seen demos where pallets of case goods were trucked S-L-O-W-L-Y through an array of antennas and even at that rate one or more items on the manifest were not recognized. So, what do you do? 1) Check off each item visually? 2) Run around the warehouse looking for the missing items? or 3) Read the boxes with a barcode scanner? Bentonville, we have a problem.

Re:Wait... (2, Informative)

djupedal (584558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190800)

I just went over costs with a local RFID vendor, and the costs are not as cheap as I was led to believe. Couple this with proxity challenged systems, and it's another solution looking for a problem the way I see it. Maybe later, but not now, thanks.

DRM and Mozilla Firefox in the Matrix (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190549)

so who benefits more (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190554)


as a % out of this situation in profit and capital

Customer
Wallmart
Distributer
Manufacturer

then perhaps you can understand the remaining parties reluctance to make the expenditure

Re:so who benefits more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190732)

Well, let's bear in mind that if the manufacturer can reduce his costs, his product will cost less for the distributor, who can then sell to Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, whoever for a lower price. Then the merchant can sell the product to the consumer for a lower price.

Are these people still making money along the way? Yep, and why not?

However, if there's no real cost benefit to the manufacturer, distributor or merchant, then there would definitely be none to the consumer. At that point, why bother? And if the reliability is as low as they state (60%) then I really can't blame them for not pressing forward.

Or did I misapprehend your meaning here?

Re:so who benefits more (2, Interesting)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190810)

And of course you missed the real winner, no matter what happens:

Consultants!

Roles reversed (5, Informative)

asliarun (636603) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190556)

Given that Wal-Mart has been bullying its suppliers since donkey's years, it's high time they got a taste of their own medicine. However, rumour has it that the Pedigree has pawed the line in this initiative. Only, they're calling it Arf-ID.

cough, sorry

Re:Roles reversed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11191244)

Pffft... considering that their bullying results in a certain degree of quality delivered at prices that lower income families can afford, I have no problems with it.


Considering that entry-level developers in the US make approximately $45K-$70K, it might be a little easy to forget that not everyone can afford that big-screen plasma TV.

Re:Roles reversed (2, Interesting)

asliarun (636603) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191751)

Remember, a lot of Wal-Mart's bullying is simply because they can get away with it and because they want things done according to their liking. It doesn't always translate into price cuts for the consumer.

Heck, RFID is one such example.

Am I the only one who likes RFID? (4, Insightful)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190558)

I have an RFID card I leave in my wallet that allows me access to parts of my work building. much better than swipe cards.

I'd love them to be used in shops too. if you could just walk round a shop putting things in a bag, put the bag on a pay station, insert your credit card, type your PIN, and leave... I think that would be great, and a real case of technology actually making life better.

and the only people (*cough* luddites *cough*) I want to hear privacy complaints from are the people who are posting from an internet cafe, wearing a disguise, putting a tinfoil blanket over themselves and the computer, and then paying with cash they've cleaned any DNA from. and you guys probably don't even go to shops ever since they introduced the eeeeeevvvviiiilll of barcodes anyway.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (5, Funny)

neverutterwhen (813161) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190568)

I don't have DNA anymore. It cost a lot but my right to privacy remains intact.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

zhenlin (722930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191062)

With your sig about Douglas N. Adams, you have no idea how funny your comment is.

MOD PARENT UP! (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191662)

Grandparent is funny too, but the parent really hit it. Damn I wish I'd thought of that.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (3, Interesting)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190586)

addition: the system I describe above is what happens at my uni library. there are self-service checkout (and checkin) stations. you scan barcodes but it also has a system to deactivate the alarm.

it's great and means you only need to see the people if you have a problem - that's the main reason for long queues at shopping etc - the 1% of the people that take up 99% of the time and delay everyone else.

(the books aren't actually RFID, but books are easy to stack and scan individually anyway, unlike a bag of mixed shapes and sized items.)

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (2, Interesting)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190807)

it's great and means you only need to see the people if you have a problem - that's the main reason for long queues at shopping etc - the 1% of the people that take up 99% of the time and delay everyone else.
Oxdung. In my experience, 99.44% of the delays at checkount counters are either because the cashier is changing her cash drawer (with the attendant paperwork slowly done in the face of 10 customers without the slightest apology nor explanation) or because the store is too fucking stupid to program their barcode database with a given product.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (2, Interesting)

rikkards (98006) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190975)

The Grocery store I go to has a self scan system. It has a camera watching you and after you scan something you put it in a bag ("It put's it in the bag or it will get the hose"). There is a cashier watching about 6 locations to make sure nothing goes through on the outside. Biggest annoyances:
1. Slow people
2. Size of stalls. 4 of the 6 are pretty small so if you are doing a major buy you are kind of limited to going to the other two.
3. No mute for the reminder voice. If you spend too long looking for which bag to put the item it bugs you. Which automatically gets it the bird.

Otherwise we prefer it over the normal cashes as the wait is usually shorter

No, you aren't (4, Insightful)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190596)

I like RFID in the same way I like barcodes. Both are amazing for certain applications (RFID kinda beats the pants off barcodes for most things, though it needs to be backed up by a barcode and a human readable identifier...)

Their usefulness, however, in my mind, does not preclude discussion of their drawbacks. Sure, there are people who are screaming BAN RFID OMG WTF but they're already the fringe and are being officially and unofficially ignored. Just because some fringies are mewling does not make the entire line of inquiry invalid.

I think it is a reasonable point to make in general with technology that once we feel that our assumptions in terms of civil life are being changed, we have to step up and say something.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (4, Interesting)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190597)

A quick thought experiment: what would happen if "somehow" a pack of chewing gum would "accidentally" stick itself to the bottom of the pay station, still within reach of the RF ID?

How many customers would just shrug the unintended penny purchase off? Enough maybe for someone to haul a few large boxes of the chewing gum out of the back door after the day is over?

I don't know about you, but I always watch what the clerks scan and where they put it. Not because they are always evil - they simply don't care. And I would rather bring home everything that I bought. And I would hate to pay for something I didn't intend to purchase. With RFID such visual checks are hardly possible, unless you are a genius who can scan 30 items on your receipt and instantly correlate them to what you wanted to buy.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (3, Interesting)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190608)

You're thinking of this stuff as being way more powerful than it is.

Really, the best mass use of RFID is in a direct replacement of barcodes- RFID with a range of just a couple of feet extra beats the hell out of a barcode (think of trying to scan a barcode on a big case of soda... is it on this side? no! flip it over! oof. Is it on that side? no! Flip it sideways!)

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (3, Interesting)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190639)

Well, it is more powerful than the bar code, according to your definition. A couple of feet? This would force me to pay for things that two or three other customers piled onto the belt. How do I sort them out? Ask them to pick it up and walk three feet away? And then scan again?

My point was that with bar codes the scanning speed matches human perception speed, and you can visually check how the barcode is used, and even how much you are being charged for each item (if you lift your eyes to the large display at the checkout position.)

I see no such verification possible if you just park your shopping cart at the pay station and the printer rattles out a list of 50 items that you may or may not have picked. You have to pay and move on, because this is supposed to be the "quick" line and the peer pressure won't allow you to linger and check everything in your cart against the receipt.

And if anyone suggests that there will be more such checkout positions - there will be less human clerks, that's the only sure thing in all this mess. That is bad in many aspects, primarily that there will be less jobs.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191051)

Job loss due to efficiancy is a good thing. It hurts in the short term, but in the long term it frees up people for other jobs; the store has more money, and the labour force has one more able body. It is win-win. Especially since cashier is a low paying job, it is not like a high paying job leaving the country and people getting underemployed after the fact.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191111)

You must be trolling. The labor force does not need "one more able body", it already has more than it can absorb. Imagine that all retail businesses decide to replace all the employees with vending machines. What will happen to millions of people who -only- are qualified to move boxes and count bills?

This is not beneficial even to businesses because if nobody earns money nobody can buy anything. Profit is not made on hoarding all the money and sitting on that pile. Profit is made on moving the money; and for that you must give and take. But it is difficult for businesses to think globally, they always hope that someone else will be employing; as result nobody does, and whole industries die out.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191503)

Yeah, the industrial revolution spelled doom for the world. We still havn't recovered.

When tractors (and other automation) made farming a small percentage of the work force things really spireled out of control.

In the short term such changes were very negative, but in the long term they were not. If someone is incapable of functioning at a level higher then that of a cashier then give them welfare, and tax companies some of the money they saved to pay for it. Others should be educated. And still some will take innitiative and do something like start a lawn mowing ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H land scaping service and help bring that kind of work down to a reasonable price (I know somebody who does it and they make as much as an elementry school teacher in 6 months of the year).

Lawn mowing is rediculously expensive and a prime example of where a lot of people should end up. WHen I was younger I went through a poor neighborhood with small yards and foot high grass everywhere and cut lawns at $5.00 a pop. I made plenty more then a cashier in a lot less time.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191589)

What will happen to millions of people who -only- are qualified to move boxes and count bills?

You're describing a very serious and mostly ignored problem. And, I'm not entirely convinced that the invisible hand works in a marketing-based economy.

But, it's a problem that can't be solved by forcing companies to employ people they don't have a use for. You're going to have to find other solutions than ludditism.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

lcsjk (143581) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191240)

Well, a couple of feet might be nice. Small passive (no battery) RFID devices need to be close to an antenna to provide reliable information.

Consider that you could put your groceries in bags as you shop. Then, when you get to the checkout, the cart would be pushed through a reader and automatically record the total of the items you have, give a printout of the items, the date they were manufactured, the expiration date, and other information. This information could even be added to an RFID card you carry in your wallet, so that at home you could record it onto your computer to keep a record of purchases. You scan your RFID credit card and you're out of there. The store would hope that the reader did not miss any items of the hundred or so in your cart. You would hope that the information matched the advertised price. However, if you could have a list of the items you put in your cart and displayed on your cart's reader as you shop, you could compare that against the final checkout and verify that the charge was correct. Now, if your computer hard drive dies like mine did last week, all that information becomes useless anyway.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191370)

In another comment above I tried to show that there is no convenient way to match 50 purchases in the cart to 50 purchases printed on the receipt.

Now, if your computer hard drive dies like mine did last week, all that information becomes useless anyway.

It is useless already. Why would I want all that garbage data anyway? If I want to know when the milk expires I drink some of it, and if I feel that it's about to go sour then I finish it all :-)

You went to great length trying to find some use for the RFID data; but the truth is that none of us, the customers, need this data. We need just products. With regard to the "hope" that I pay for what I bought, thanks a lot! But I will steer clear of this "convenience" - financial matters don't like approximation. If I give the store just an inch they will take the whole yard and ask for more.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

Lord Pillage (815466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191293)

Do we not already push our goods around in huge metal cages [wikipedia.org] also known as shopping carts? And the hand baskets too, aren't they made of a mesh that resembles a cage? Just a question, but wouldn't this be a benefit to the RFID scanner if you just scanned what you have, and the scanner would be blind to the other customer's goods. They may need a little modification to make them RFID compatible, but I'm sure Walmart could afford it. And I mean, if it works for passports [slashdot.org] then why not shopping goods?

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191471)

The stores will see greatly increased sales of aluminum foil products... and reduced profits.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (2, Insightful)

jbash (784046) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190611)

Bar codes don't track the movements of the product for months after you bought it, so there's no comparison.

You totally miss the point of RFID though, which is that it's a landmark advance in surveillance technology. It can be easily abused.

The government would be very tempted to implant such tags in prisoners and homeless people. (Perhaps the argument could be made that it would reduce crime.) Employers may require implantation of such devices as a condition of employment. (The argument could be made that they would reduce employee shirking.)

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

Viceice (462967) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190636)

No YOU miss the point. RDIF tags are easy to destroy. All you need is a not very powerful RF transmitter or magnetic field.

I'll bet that the day RDIF becomes widespread, there will be little keychain 'RDIF Destroyers' and related products.

Heck, i'm pretty sure already avalable degaussing wands will do the job nicely.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190972)

You can not destroy an RFID tag if it has even a most rudimentary protection against such an overload. Basically, a resistor and a Zener diode would do it. There would be no change in cost. But I am sure the tags already have this surge suppression built in, as part of their power conditioning circuit.

And if the tag is mandatory for your employment - such as it is necessary to open doors and access materials - how much good such destruction would do to you even if you can pull it off? At best you will be given another tag; at worst you will be fired.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190637)

And if you were planning to track prisoners and homeless why would you use the RFID standard?
Thier are better ways of doing it(read up of USSR spying and tracking methods) then using RFID.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

jbash (784046) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190651)

And if you were planning to track prisoners and homeless why would you use the RFID standard? Thier are better ways of doing it(read up of USSR spying and tracking methods) then using RFID.

Because of the price. When you compare the price of RFID tags to the surveillance they accomplish, they are a landmark development for those companies, govwenments, and individuals who wish to track others.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11191053)

And if you were planning to track prisoners and homeless why would you use the RFID standard?
Thier are better ways of doing it(read up of USSR spying and tracking methods) then using RFID.


I have read about those and I fail to see how they are better.

For example, I don't see how having a 1.5 hour roll call two times a day supervised by bored guards with an absolutely minimum amount of training is a better way to ensure that no prisoner has escaped than keeping track of them electronically.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (4, Insightful)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190676)

assuming the RFID was still enabled after purchase, and someone wanted to track the packaging of an item I bought, and was close enough to scan they could see and touch it anyway.... sorry but I just don't care.

complain when it's abused, not because it CAN be abused. if you listened to complaints based on something COULD be a problem, we wouldn't have the internet or 99% of inventions.

implantation? you must be taking the piss. how many of us have barcodes tattooed on our foreheads? that's what happens to prisoners in all the sci-fi movies but years later we still don't have it! WTF!?!!123

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190756)

Not sure about where you shop, but where I shop they usually put the things I buy in opaque bags.. You know, the ones that people standing next to you can't see through. Are these bags RF proof? Probably not, so suddenly while toting my purchases through the mall to the next stop on my spending spree, any twit with a scanner can check me out and see if I'm worth robbing. Ahhhh this guy bought a $5k diamond ring from Birks and a couple of sweaters from Eatons... This guy bought a Jugs magazine and some vaseline... Maybe now you may get the point.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190888)

I don't know about the ratio of high-tech equipment to intelligence for criminals where you live, but if I wanted to steal a $5k ring I wouldn't go scanning people for RFIDs. I'd either mug to person wearing it, or follow the person leaving the shop.

there are far far far far far far far far FAR easier ways to steal things than RFIDs.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

Sven The Space Monke (669560) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190942)

Personally, I'm hoping for shit like that. Imagine the fun you can have with RFID tags you've programmed yourself.


Just think of the conversations that will happen at EvilInfoGatherCorp - "Sir, I think our readers are defective again. According to today's reading, the same man entered Sears 475 times, carrying $778,000 in diamond bracelets, 43 industrial sized barrels of petroleum jelly, 2 live squids, and a Buick."

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

EvilOpie (534946) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191863)

If I remember correctly, people who were in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany had an ID number tattooed to their forearm. There are a few people alive today who still live with those tattoos.

Not that it's ever likely to happen again, but that doesn't mean that it *hasn't* happened.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190885)

Governments "would be" tempted, Employers "MAY" implant tags?

How about WILL... This was seen coming for the last 2000 years.

Read the bible, even if you don't believe the rest of it, it's pretty much dead-on about the implantation of RFID tags. "Mark of a beast in a forehead" is pretty much the only way to describe it to primitives 2000 years ago, but you can be sure that it will happen.

It will just take a few more years of social engineering before it is accepted as a "really good idea".

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190974)

Waiting for it? It already happened [ushmm.org] , dipshit.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191005)

You don't even have to wait several years. Set up a "fast track" system anywhere from airports to grocery stores, and people will gladly implant anything to save time. Of course, after everyone does that there is no "fast" in this any more, but it will be too late to be sorry.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191621)

The bible did not predict RFID tags. If you're not joking, you're queerer than a $3 bill.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190617)

The issue is that they think the government is actually organized enough to man a method of tracking every person in the US and still keep it under cover. Which it is not. When our leaders get caught in a conspiracy it is usually just taking some bribe from a single business to over look what they are doing or pardoning a prisoner who did some of their dirty work. The biggest conspiracy in government would be more to the level of Organized Crime, Aka Mob Control. But this Dr. Evil Spy on everyone and see where everyone is coming and going technology is not that organized it would actually require talented IT workers which the government doesn't have, or are not allowed to do their job because of politics. Our government is a mess and I for one want to keep it that way, because once our government gets organized problems occur.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

caino59 (313096) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190648)

I sense that you are getting away with something, somehow, somewhere...

Another vote for the disorganization in our government!

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190624)

Ahh... like a lot of things related to marketing and retail(like data mining)... the idea of RFID in the hands of commercial interests exites me. The idea of how a government could misuse it terrifies me.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190630)

There are a lot of reasons for consumers to not want RFID tags. The primary reason I can think of is personal security. Would you want to literally broadcast the fact that you had thirteen platinum Visa cards in your wallet? Walk into the wrong bar one night and count yourself lucky to wake up again.

RFID reading is secret -- nobody needs to ask your permission to scan you. (Barcodes require you to expose them to the reader.)

There are also other privacy related reasons you might not want RFID tags in your clothing. What if you walked into a fancy restaurant and they scanned you on the way in, realized you had on Walmart underwear, and refused to serve you? "Excuse me, sir, but we don't serve your kind here. You can play dress-up in an Armani suit, but we know who you really are." Or, would you want that restaurant to throw you out before they seated you because they saw your Visa cards were maxed out? "Hey, I was just here to meet a friend!" "Sorry, sir; may I suggest you meet him at McDonalds instead?"

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190747)

What makes you think you won't be able to just remove the RFID tags once you buy the clothing?
Or do you still have all the anti theft tags only our clothing?
Personally I can't wait till I can literally walk out of a store at the same time I buy my stuff, no lines, and maybe one can finally buy those embarrassing personal items without getting odd stares from the checkout clerk.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (2, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190955)

Because the tags are embedded deeply into the product by the manufacturer.

One of the great promises of RFID is that the entire manufacturing and distribution chain will benefit from the single placement of one tag. The idea is the manufacturer will embed the tag right into the sole of the Nike shoes during the injection molding process. Then, the manufacturer can track the shoes through their factory, ensuring that each box contains a matching set of left and right size 11-D Nike Air TraxWalxers Runnerx X-trainerx Jordanx. The shipping company can check the manifest by scanning the containers. The trucking company can check the cargo with a scanner. The store can receive the crate from the trucker and verify that their Nikes are exactly as ordered.

Walmart's benefit is the stores won't have to pay a clerk to stick these tags on in the back room. They won't have to stick barcode labels on the products. They won't have to stick extra RF security tags on the products. They won't accidentally sell me a box with two left shoes in it (and they won't have to teach their cashiers the difference between left and right.) And they'll supposedly have quicker checkout lines by reducing scan time.

By the same token, if the chip is molded in the sole, I can't cut it out.

Ultimately they want these chips in every single product sold. Hitachi's waterproof chip is actually 1/3 the size of a grain of rice, and is intended to be permanently sewn into the waistband of a pair of women's panties. Do you want to go through all your products after you get home, hunting for tiny bumps like a dog checking for fleas?

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

lamona (743288) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191643)

They also want them to stay there for returns. Both for the returns they put back on the shelf, but also to make sure that anything returned was actually purchased, not stolen. There's quite a "business" in returning stolen goods for cash.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191682)

Do you have any links to where it is detailed that the RFID will be not only embedded into the item but will be undeactiavatable after purchase?
If so... well all my new clothing is going through the microwave when I get it home.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190927)

There are a lot of reasons for consumers to not want RFID tags.

There are a lots of reasons as a business would want to use the RFID tags without them ever leaving the store. 1. is that item isn't yours until you've paid for it. Just because you pick the item up and walk out of the store with it, doesn't mean you own the item.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (2, Interesting)

Illserve (56215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190928)

This presumes we are unable to remove or nullify the RFID tags in our own items, and I would presume that these tags are included in the packaging, not the items itself. It would considerable headache to the manufacturing process in factories all over the world to include the tags in various bits of apparel.to

IOTW, This is about pre-purchase tagging. And if they can make my goods cheaper by reducing theft/inefficiency, then I'm all for it. It's about time inventory management got out of the "hope and pray" methodology that it currently employs.

And if they start tagging my underwear inside the elastic, I can always get rid of it one way or another (a hammer might work)

As for the credit cards, shielded wallet. You know you'd buy one if they came out anyway, just for the cool factor :)

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190996)

See my previous post about embedded chips. Maximum benefit involves embedding the chip in the item (not the package) as early as possible in the manufacturing process so more links in the chain can benefit.

I have no problem with retailers wanting to use RFID for the prepurchase handling of their merchandise. But I have a huge problem with the tags remaining live after purchase for privacy reasons. As a human being (without having yet evolved an RFID reader) I have no way to confirm if Walmart is actually destroying the tags at purchase, or if they're just marking them as "paid."

As for the shielded wallet, well, that's one step too close to tinfoil beanies for me. :-)

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191036)

I can always get rid of it one way or another (a hammer might work)

The problem is not what you will do. The problem is what everyone else will not do. At some point if you don't have the tag you automatically become suspect.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

kulack (732284) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191253)

As for the credit cards, shielded wallet. You know you'd buy one if they came out anyway, just for the cool factor :)
I thought everyone reading here already had those? How else do you keep the single condom, still unused since your freshman year in high school, protected from gamma rays [google.com] and nutrino [google.com] penetration?

Tinfoil hat^H^H^Hwallet? (1)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191291)

How about a tinfoil wallet? One pocket in the wallet is protected from reading RFID's, another is "public" - so you get to choose ona card by card basis which ones a random person can have.

What if you walked into a fancy restaurant and they scanned you on the way in, realized you had on Walmart underwear, and refused to serve you? "Excuse me, sir, but we don't serve your kind here.

That would be pretty absurd - who cares what underwear you're wearing? The credit card scenario is less absurd, but that's why they go in the tinfoil wallet :)

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191506)

Walk into the wrong bar one night and count yourself lucky to wake up again.

No-one has ever been mugged for credit cards.

You've been watching too many Steven Segal movies or something.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

v01d (122215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191579)

No-one has ever been mugged for credit cards.

So are you claiming responsibility for every mugging that has ever occurred? I can't think of any other way you could make such a bold unverifiable assertion.

Besides, that's not necessarily what the previous poster was implying. I wouldn't be suprised if there's a correlation between people with high-end credit cards and people with expensive watches and large sums of cash.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191669)

There's probably a negative correlation between people with high-end credit cards and large sums of cash, yes.

You have no idea how much cash some people keep in their wallet, do you? And no, the $300 you take to the comic store every week isn't a "large" sum of cash.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (4, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191715)

There are a lot of reasons for consumers to not want RFID tags.

Perhaps, but you can't really think effectively about this with as much confusion about the technologies as you have.

Would you want to literally broadcast the fact that you had thirteen platinum Visa cards in your wallet?

  1. The chips being put in credit cards are not RFIDs, they're contactless smart cards. There are many technological differences but the main practical difference is range. Contactless smart cards have a practical range of about four inches. Actually, I've rarely been able to read one at that range. Typically, to get a reliable read you need to get the card within about 1 cm of the reader. In practice, the most convenient thing to do is to lay the card on top of the reader.
  2. Contactless smart cards and readers can't operate with multiple cards in range of the reader. If you put a stack of them on a reader sometimes the reader will be able to talk to one of them but usually none of them will be readable.
  3. Contactless EMV cards don't provide any information about the type of card they are, so there's nothing to distinguish between a starter card with a $500 credit limit and a platinum card.
  4. If the banks are smart and go to contactless cards with a PIN, the card will refuse to divulge any significant information until the PIN has been transmitted to it. PIN transmission is only done in a secure channel (encrypted).

So, your hypothetical barroom scanner must:

  1. Get his reader within a foot (let's be generous) of your wallet.
  2. Hope you only have one card in there, because otherwise odds are good he'll get nothing.
  3. Have the keys necessary to establish an encrypted session with your card.
  4. (Maybe, depending on configuration) Get you to tell him what your PIN is so he can send it to unlock the card.
  5. Grab your card number and then use his hacked access to that bank's computer to find out whether or not it has a high credit limit.

I think he'd be better off looking at your clothes and car to see how much money you have.

There are also other privacy related reasons you might not want RFID tags in your clothing. What if you walked into a fancy restaurant and they scanned you on the way in, realized you had on Walmart underwear, and refused to serve you?

Well, retailers who plan to use RFID (and these are RFID tags, not smart cards) also plan to deactivate the chips at the checkout stand. Among other things, that will allow them to identify items that have been stolen, rather than purchased.

Or, would you want that restaurant to throw you out before they seated you because they saw your Visa cards were maxed out?

In this case the restaurant would have to do everything the barroom scanner would, plus perform a credit check. EMV cards don't provide (don't really even know) your credit balance. I suspect the restaurant's jet-setting clientele would get irritated at all of the extraneous credit queries. What would the restaurant do when someone walks in who has their credit records blocked?

There may be privacy concerns with RFIDs and contactless smart cards, but your examples are both infeasible and, frankly, rather silly.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11191065)

I have an RFID card I leave in my wallet that allows me access to parts of my work building. much better than swipe cards.

And, like swipe cards, you realize that they are trivially easy to defeat in a security system? I hope your main entrance doesn't have one.

Re:Am I the only one who likes RFID? (1)

Trevin (570491) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191845)

I have three RFID cards for my company: one for the parking garage, one for the elevator (for after-hours access), and one for the office suite. Once I tried stuffing two of the cards in the same plastic sleeve and tried to swipe it over the office reader. It failed to read the office RFID no matter how close I held the card or which way it was turned; apparently the proximity of the two cards made them interfere with each other.

When you take this into consideration... (5, Funny)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190576)

I can only find what I'm looking for in Wal Mart about 60% of the time anyway, so really it all balances out in the long run...

RFID Threat (1, Insightful)

Himring (646324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190589)

RFID technology is the greatest threat to individual freedom in our times. In order for there to be liberty, we must be free to be anonymous. "Tagging" things -- making items identifiable -- is really nothing more than a step toward tracking us (we are our things in spite of what fight club would have us believe). It all began when the U.S. laid back and allowed social security numbers to be attached to every citizen....

Re:RFID Threat (1)

BitwiseX (300405) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190618)

*Find RFID, Replace Barcode* Items have been tagged for awhile now, and have made shopping as well as plenty of other things, more efficient and less expensive. http://www.adams1.com/pub/russadam/upccode.html [adams1.com] UPC was born on April 3, 1973, and guess what, I STILL don't have my barcode tattoo. Walmart is not making you implant an RFID tag to shop there, these are inanimate objects. Put your tin foil hat on the shelf, before you have a heart attack. :)

Re:RFID Threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190623)

yup, thats the Government's plan, to make cash, creditcards, Drivers license, National ID, Passport, obselete and replace them with a RFID transponder imbedded in your head or right hand...

does this smell of the beast? 666

Re:RFID Threat (2, Insightful)

MankyD (567984) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190632)

You say this, but you provide no proof or examples of the rampant abuse you so disdain. If you're going to make far reaching claims like this, don't expect people to take them to heart without facts backing it up.

While I might concur that RFID has potential for abuse, I must say that I have been quite happy with it when I do use it (access cards etc.) I also personally believe that it is much harder and impractical to implement these "tracking" methods /. so commonly fears. Most RFID generally has a range of a meter or two (at most.) How are they going to track you once you leave the store? It would be ludicrous (and legally impossible) to set up readers along public sidewalks and inside public buildings.

Re:RFID Threat (1)

kirun (658684) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191435)

So, we're supposed to sit back and wait until somebody *actually* abuses RFID, and only then start complaining? Ever heard of prevention is better than cure?

We know through spyware and loyalty cards that businesses are keen to track their customers. Since they've always done it in the past, it is plainly obvious they'll do it in the future.

As businesses can't be relied upon to destroy chips themselves, I'll be forced to buy a RFID reader, plus whatever is needed to terminate the chips, assuming that can be done without destroying the product. This time and money wasted will take a big chunk out of the supposed "benefits" to me. I suspect shops will in reality take the benefits, and pass them on to themselves.

And as for governments not wishing to store information on its citizens in a huge database, exactly what planet have you been living on? [no2id.com]

Re:RFID Threat (1)

MankyD (567984) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191496)

No, we don't have to wait for abuse. What I am asking for is an example of how it can be abused. Once you leave the store with the RFID, how in the hell are they going to track you?

In response to your loyalty card tracking, RFID's do not facilitate this any more than barcodes. Just because I purchase a product with an RFID does not mean that the store miraculously knows who I am, (especially if I pay with cash.) If I return to the store and buy another product, RFID, in and of itself, does not enable them to recall that I bought a different product earlier on. Unless I carry some personal identification which I reveal to them, such tracking is impossible.

Personal RFID is not what's at question in this article.

Re:RFID Threat (1)

kirun (658684) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191752)

No, we don't have to wait for abuse. What I am asking for is an example of how it can be abused. Once you leave the store with the RFID, how in the hell are they going to track you?

For example, if you buy clothes (which most larger supermarkets now offer), you may well be wearing them when you return to the store. Combine this with RFID readers in the shops to "prevent shoplifting [com.com] " (which could just as easily be prevented by putting those items at the checkout), and you now have shops which can, if they wanted to, track customer's every movement. Just like mobile phone companies [guardian.co.uk] already do.

Re:RFID Threat (1)

AnyLoveIsGoodLove (194208) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190701)

WTF.. this got modded up to insightful... what a bunch of crap..

Re:RFID Threat (1)

floodo1 (246910) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190857)

the problem isnt that we HAVE a serial number, the problem is when other people USE that serial number.

the problem with rfid is that it can be read without the holder's knowledge

Finding 60% at Wal-Mart is Pretty Good (1)

noisefloor (89838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190627)

I usually can't find about 90% of what I'm looking for a Wal-Mart

Re:Finding 60% at Wal-Mart is Pretty Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11191358)

That's because they keep moving shit around. Why? God only knows. I'm handicapped and having to look more than a little while for one fucking item pisses me off royally.

Earth to WallyWorld - LEAVE YOUR SHIT IN ONE PLACE!

Dammit! (1)

CodeWanker (534624) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190633)

Now my crazy grandpa will have to find a NEW Number of the Beast to frighten my kids with.

doesn't make sense (1)

confusion (14388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190659)

IT doesn't make sense that Wal Mart would continue to hold the Jan 1 deadline when they can't even get it working. If it isn't 100% reliable (or closer to it, anyway), both Wal Mart and all their suppliers would have to maintain two inventory tracking systems (old one + new rfid). With that much volume, that is no small thing.
Granted, that is normally how the bugs are worked out - you put it in and force the technology providers to keep working on it until it hits the 98%+ accuracy range.

Jerry
http://www.syslog.org/ [syslog.org]

RFID is not cost effective and is very problematic (5, Informative)

lewscroo (695355) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190774)

I am currently working with one of the RFID companies that is "working" with walmart on the actual implementation of RFID. Let me tell you that there is no foreseable ROI in the near future. Currently at a cost of about 25 cents a tag, it is much too expensive to be worth it for anyone. The technology is in its infancy so there are so many problems we have encountered so far.

One of the problems is the tags. Not only do they cost so damn much, but they are also not very high quality. There's a feature called "locking" which allows you to set a number on the tag and not allow it to change, but when using this we have too high a failure rate to be effective (10-30% depending on the tag type). So we had to turn off the locking, meaning its much easier to change the unique number associated with the tags (which will be a problem when tags hit the retail sector) and now we only get around a 1-2% failure rate. But when doing high volumes, even this small percent is expensive to deal with.

Another is the hardware. Part of the tag writing problems we have seen may be due to the tags and/or the reader/writer units. But right now, some tags get created and written to with no problems, but when they go by a reader, the reader just does not see a number on that tag, meaning as i said before its either a bad tag or some sort of incompatibility/problem with the reader unit. Currently we are trying to get the tags applied cost effectively, but unfortunately its pretty much boiling down to using people to grab tags from a RFID printer and hand-apply everything.

We have also been having trouble verifying all the product on a pallet, and certainly cannot expect to read 100% of product 100% of time. Some product is easy to see, but depending on the density/material in the materials on the pallet, it can be very difficult to read many of the tags.

Software is another hinderance. While the company i have been working with has had its large share of problems in the last few months, they are getting better, but still are not perfect. And unless things work perfect, it can cause so many problems. One small chink in the software can make it inoperable (essentially crashing the software a-la Windows), but the software is slowly getting more and more stable.

The fact that Walmart madated this is certainly causing issues, especially for smaller companies and products that companies make almost no money on anyway. For us, we have a very expensive product so tagging at the case level is not too big a deal (it still has/will cost us millions of dollars to do), but just remember theres lots of companies that make almost no profit on the case level and that 25 cents for a tag eats pretty much all of their profits. RFID isn't going away, theres just too much potential. RFID can certainly work as a technology, as seen in the success of toll-tags like EZ-Pass and Smart-Tag. And many of these problems would have arisen anyway in the future, its just that the Walmart mandate basically caused the problems to happen faster.

Wireless technology vs. common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11190948)

Wireless technology will never be as reliable and secure as wired technology. Wired tech has the problem of being too simple ("un-fancy") to be sexy. Look at all the crap that WLAN promised like "no more network cables in your office" and stuff. So what? You need a power cable and some others too, so why bother? WLAN is slower and more insecure that a simple network cable and to make up for it, it is more expensive and and emits microwave energy too! Wow, now you little customers RUN TO THE SHOP AND BUY this new crap technology.
Okay, it has its place for cheap long-range connections and simple network access for guests.
Now RFID. It MAY in some years do what it promises, IF they figure out how to talk to one chip among some hundreds in presence of RF noise. I don't think RFID is the only solution to the "inventory problem"... It is the solution that looks simple to managers because they don't know a thing about technology.
RFID will not be able to replace counters because you could put small and expensive products under a tin foil hat(TM). And heck, is it impossible to use barcodes for inventory? Sometimes, nothing beats organization and planning. Sure it is "simpler" to rely on funky technology.
If the supplier wants to cheat you, he can stick some additional chips anywhere on a pallet. What do you do if a tiny chip falls off in range of your reader antennas? What if packaging material with a metal layer (anti-static, tetrapak, cans) shields the signal? This is stupid technology for stupid people.
Think.

Slowly but surely (3, Interesting)

davmoo (63521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190953)

Sooner or later, RFID is going to be a reality in Walmart, with other retailers to follow. Why? Because Walmart is the 800 pound gorilla of the retail world. And what the gorilla wants, the gorilla gets. Its only a matter of time. Resistance is futile.

The lead-in for this story made it sound like suppliers are standing up to Walmart on philosophical grounds, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Re:Slowly but surely (1)

lamona (743288) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191727)

Actually, the 800 pound gorilla is the Dep't of Defense, which is also requiring suppliers [rfidjournal.com] to move toward carton-level RFID in 2005 and item-level by 2007. DoD buys everything from toilets to tampons in huge quantities, and no one wants to be left off of their supplier list.

Sounds about as good as its self-checkout scanners (5, Interesting)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 9 years ago | (#11190980)

I don't know who picked out the equipment for the self-checkouts at Walmart, but it's gotta be the worst available. Mis-scans constantly, thinks stuff is not in the bag when it is, made for midgets. (I'm 6'5" and it's a major pain after bending over the 50th time to put a single jar of babyfood in the bag that's only two feet off the floor.) And nothing like standing in line for 10 minutes just to watch the person in front of you have to get the attendant over three times in a row just to get one item scanned.

Between either waiting in line for a "real" (attended) checkout lane (Which there are less and less of since cheap walmart is pushing everyone to the self-checkouts) and waiting in line for the crappy self-checkout to work, I am seriously attempting to avoid Walmart whenever I can lately. It's too big of a pain in the ass. It takes 2 minutes to get into the store, pick up the few items I need (I'm talking about man-type shopping, not female shopping where they stare at everything and take hours to pick up a few items), then stand 10 to 15 minutes just to pay for it.

I think that if it takes longer to pay for it than to find the item and walk to the checkout, it should be free. I don't have time to stand around because Walmart is too damn cheap to make it convenient to do business with them.

Compare to the elf-checkout (er, that should be Self-checkout :) ) at Krogers/Bakers grocery stores. The Kroger scanners ROCK! They work pretty much flawlessly. The bagger is at a more realistic height (rather than assuming that EVERYONE is in a wheelchair), and you don't stand in line for 10 minutes just to watch the person in front of you have to get the attendant over three times in a row just to get one item scanned.

Re:Sounds about as good as its self-checkout scann (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11191403)

Aye, but when all that's left are self-checkouts, I will no longer shop there. I demand to be helped by a live human being. If you're not man (or woman) enough to do business with me face to face, I'll go elsewhere.

Re:Sounds about as good as its self-checkout scann (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191446)

The other issue is trust. When allowing a consumer to check themselves out, there has to be some level of trust, or, alternatively, a significant tolerance for shrinkage. Wal*Mart has niether.

This completely eliminates the advantage for the consumer, which is fast checkout without the hassles of going through a poorly trained human. At Kroger's, for instance, it is perfectly possible to get out of the store without any significant interventions. The few times I have ben to Wal*mart, I have never been able to get out without hassle. Not only do you have the normal thug at the door, but the atttendent seems much more willing to assume malice on the part of the consumer.

I assume that this assumption that most of the customers are thieves derives from the fact that Wal*Mart executives are theives. This would also likely mean that the executive presume tha the suppliers are thieves, which is why every item has to be tagged. The only thins that can be trusted are computers.

The issues are not just the tags themselves (4, Interesting)

FredThompson (183335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191360)

My company designs and sell equipment to the producers of corrugated and solid fiber packaging. We don't deal with the IT aspects of RFID. However, there are a number of implementation issues which are affecting this part of the supply chain.

Increasingly, recycled paper fibers are being used to make boxes in the U.S. Some of that is scraps or mistakes from the box plants, some is recovered material.

This stuff is dumped into a chemical bath to seperate the paper fibers, adhesives, inks, etc. then run through various filterations to make sure only the paper fibers are recovered. That's one big part of the problem. RFID tags aren't necessarily removed. They must be large enough that they won't slip through with the paper fiber. If they do go through, the paper will be messed up which can damage the machinery which works with it and also the tags might still be active.

Another issue is related to signal strength and resiliency. There's been work with conductive inks. The idea is to print an antenna pattern on the inside of a box to which the RFID tag is attached. This is supposed to help the tag have a greater detection range. However, regulations and technologies for using conductive ink are different than regular inks. Metallic inks are powdered metal suspended in a carrier. Those little pieces of metal aren't as easy to flush from printing machines as clay or organic-based colorants.

There are also stringent regulations concerning the manufacture of paper products used for foods and medicines. They cannot exceed very minute limits of metallic content. Little specs of metal can come from the automatic sharpening of rotary knives which happens during conversion from paper rolls to corrugated or solid fiber board. Imagine the problems which would happen from conductive inks...

Hold on a second (3, Insightful)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 9 years ago | (#11191413)

So according to the second link Walmart achieves 60% accuracy with the scanning of the tags?

I know that they are considered to be top-of-the-pops in logistics, but when you achieve 40% failures in stock maintenance and merchandise flow I wouldn't call that state of the art, I'd call that outright shoddy (even considering that accuracy _might_ get to 95% one day)

By calling up the psychic hotline (9$99 a minute) they probably achieve more accurate results..

(But then again, maybe it's just an engenious way to piss of their suppliers).

mod 04 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11191633)

membeRs Are [goat.cx]
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