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Grocery Store of the Future Spell it - - RFID

If you haven't heard of the term RFID you are in for a treat. This technology will radically revolutionize everything we do in the near future. Radio Frequency IDentification is an automatic data capture technology that uses tiny tracking chips affixed to products. Many of the world's largest manufacturing companies will replace the bar code with these chips.

Wal-Mart is the leader in promoting this technology and demanding that their vendors use it so they can even further reduce their outrageously low prices. Wal-Mart's insistence on using these is radically driving down the price of the technology, which will make it more affordable for all other companies. They are closing in on that magic 5-cent figure. Not too long ago these devices were over $1. The U.S. military is the other major user of this technology as their supply chain is perfect for improvement with this system.

If you want a real treat I would encourage you to click on this amazing Wired four-page article that peeks into the future and gives you a glimpse of what shopping in a grocery store will be like in a few years. You'll start by grabbing a cart and swiping an ID card through a reader mounted on the handle. Now the cart can announce your presence to every kiosk, display shelf, and electronic price tag as you move through the store. The cart also will have a console that generates a shopping list based on your purchasing habits and a map to navigate the aisles. Other features:

  • Dynamic Pricing Prices will be updated each night in response to real-time fluctuations of supply and demand.
  • Advertising Display Shoppers strolling by will be served custom ads based on buying habits and demographic profile.
  • Checkout Pass No more waiting in line. An RFID reader will instantly scan all the items in your cart and debit your card accordingly. This is a BIG one and will save you LOADS of time.
  • Sommelier Kiosk Wine lovers will learn about the vintage, region, and varietal of a selection - and even get food pairing ideas by waving the bottle at the reader.
  • Smart Shelves Inventory data will be refreshed in real time by readers embedded in the shelves. The information will be sent to everyone in the supply chain: retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.
  • Cart-Top Computing A Wi-Fi-enabled touchscreen on the handle of each cart will read a shopper's ID card, suggest items for purchase based on previous visits, and guide customers to the shelves where the listed items are located.
  • Veggie Vision A self-serve scale with built-in digicam will identify produce by size, shape, and color, then print price labels. Eventually, it will generate an RFID tag for each item.

Wired July 7, 2004

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