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Smart labels may be about to change the way that companies distribute and sell almost everything they make
AT A Tesco's supermarket in Cambridge, England, the shelves have begun to talk to their contents, and the contents are talking back. Soon, razors at a Wal-Mart store in Brockton, Massachusetts will begin to let staff know when they suspect theft. This spring, a group of firms will attempt to track, in real time, many thousands of goods as they travel from factory to supermarket shelf. Consultants tout cost savings and extra sales that could run into tens of billions of dollars a year.
The reason for the sudden buzz of excitement is a new, supercheap version of an old tracking technology called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). RFID systems are made up of readers and ‚Äúsmart tags‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒmicrochips attached to antennas. When the tag nears a reader, it broadcasts the information contained in its...