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Java RFID, anyone?
Friday, February 11, 2005

The use of RFID technologty to track inventory in a warehouse or store, to me, seems like a good idea.

Wal-Mart has been using such technology for some time now, to keep track of their inventory - Wal-Mart, as a corporation, seems to be ahead of the pack when it comes to retailing - Wal-Mart is the typical poster child in business classes. I remember hearing in my management and marketing classes about their feats of inventiveness - And it definitely shows in the bottom line.

Anyway, I have two scenarios to present to you that make use of RFID technology - One is fictional; the other one is not.

Scenario one
A school full of children wearing such RFID tags all day long. RFID readers are placed at the entrance of classrooms to aid in attendance; Also, place readers at the entrance of washrooms (I can't think of a good idea why).

Scenario two
Inside a grocery store, a shady looking character is placing items in his big long black trench coat. When he is completely full of groceries, he dashes toward the door appearing to leave without paying - But wait, RFID comes to rescue. His bank account (or some kind of account) is automatically charged with the correct (we hope) cost of his purchase.

The fictional scenario?

...Drum roll, please...

Scenario number two. I don't know if you recall (or saw, if you are in North America) an IBM commercial with the premise of the story exactly as I described above.

Scenario number one is not fictional. A school's administration body in California (U.S.A.) decided that such technology would be a good idea to implement in their school.

They also decided to accept money from the company that makes such systems, to beta test their technology. It gets better: the school administrators neglected to tell the parents that such system was being implemented and then made the wearing of the RFID tags mandatory, with disciplinary actions if a student failed to wear the tracking device.

As a parent, I'd feel uneasy if my son came home wearing such tag without my consent.

Apparently, I'm not alone with that reaction. Children's parents seemed to have a problem as well, claiming privacy issues and questioning the school administration's ethical behavior for using children as "guinea pigs" for untested technology.

If you want the details, read Wired's article School RFID Plan Gets an F.

As a Software Developer, I get exited to hear that new technologies aid in making our lives easier, generate more revenue in all directions, and spread information in remote areas of the world. However, I still think we need better ways to bring them into public consumption without violating human rights and liberties, and most importantly, introducing them without irritating children's parents. You just don't mess with anyone's kids :)

Any Java developers out there, implementing any type of RFID application?

8:27 AM | 0 comment(s) |


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