January 21, 2005 Radio Frequency Identification Devices (known as RFID's) are set to usher in a new world of consumer convenience. But beware the 'silent stalker' that accompanies this technology. You may need an electronic jammer to shield your privacy. An RFID attached to your windscreen (E-tag) lets you automatically pay road or bridge tolls but in parts of the USA it can also buy a fast-fill from Mobil or a Big Mac at a McDonald's drive-through. Now, micro devices, no bigger than a grain of sand, can be implanted in passports, driver's licences and credit cards to transmit your ID. Embed them in products and they transmit (the equivalent of) a barcode - able to be read at a distance.
January 21, 2005 Radio Frequency Identification Devices (known as RFID’s) are set to usher in a new world of consumer convenience. But beware the ‘silent stalker’ that accompanies this technology. You may need an electronic jammer to shield your privacy.
In 2002, I pointed to early applications of RFID that were developing rapidly.1 A couple of years later, this still fledgling technology has gained an unstoppable momentum. Because of the cost-saving efficiencies for supply-chain management and positive effects on consumption lifestyles, the future is dawning fast.
Imagine in the supermarket, you’ve forgotten what you need from the cold section. Don’t worry, simply phone your RFID enabled refrigerator and ‘poll’ its contents.
At the checkout, no more waiting in line with an overloaded shopping cart. Just sail through the exit and without stopping, every item will be scanned, itemized and charged to your account in an instant.
These are just a couple of the consumer lifestyle benefits brought to you by RFID!
But wait! See that character loitering in the shopping center carpark? Is he a mugger? Or a market researcher? These ‘promiscuous’ RFID signals respond to anybody’s scanner. So, maybe he knows what you bought. And if RFID microchips get embedded in bank notes, he could also know how much cash you are carrying.
Step into this ‘science-fact’ scenario and take a look around at what a laissez faire world of RFID looks like. A world that almost everyone agrees will need controls. The question is what and when - and can we afford to wait? ' To unmask the ‘silent stalker’, you have to understand how RFID works.
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Max Sutherland is author of the book 'Advertising & the Mind of the Consumer’ (published in eight languages) and is a registered psychologist. He works as an independent marketing consultant in Australia and USA and is also adjunct Professor at Bond University.