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Tiny Microchips Everywhere...RFIDs

Boot Camp feature for Friday, July 16, 2004

Microchips the size of a grain of sand…just about everywhere. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. You may not have heard of RFID before…but you'll be hearing about it plenty in the months and years to come. It stands for Radio Frequency Identification. A new tracking technology…using tiny microchips that can be attached to anything from clothing to car parts. And some of the largest retailers in the world…including Wal-Mart…and Metro Group in Europe…have already begun experimenting with the tags as the eventual replacement for bar codes. Eric Gabrielson, worldwide RFID solutions director for IBM…says the technology has some significant advantages…

"With RFID, you're able to read multiple tags simultaneously without line of sight. So you don't have to have a bar code scanner right next to that tag. Another would be data capacity. You're able to have higher levels of data that can be captured on that tag so you know more about that product. And it provides a unique identifier."

Products will be able to be tracked as never before. That has led to some privacy concerns to which Gabrielson says…

"You could have a kill switch that kills or removes the tag at point of sale. You also could indicate to customers the benefit of keeping it on and they may decide to keep it on."

One research firm says within four years…RFIDs may be a more than 3 billion dollar business. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.