A few weeks ago I attended a partner meeting at RFID Innovasjonsenter AS (web page only in Norwegian) which is a center for research, development and testing on new RFID solutions. We talked about a new RFID show case room/center that is planned to be in operation by the start of 2010. I’m very excited to see what the result of this will be. They are planning a 500 square meters area showing how RFID can be used through the whole life cycle of a product.
But what really caught my attention was the METRO Group Future Store Initiative founded in mid-2002 with more than 85 companies from retailing, consumer goods, IT and service sectors. The aim for this initiative is to drive forward the modernization process in retailing. They say that RFID is the key technology for future retailing.
An important element in their research is the real, – Future Store located in Toenisvorst (Germany). This is a store with 8600 square meters of selling area and it’s filled with new technology that ordinary people can use while they are shopping. They have a Mobile Shopping Assistant application which can be used to prepare shopping lists at home, scan products at the store and accelerate the check-out process. They have a smart freezer that I really like. This is a system to ensure top quality on the fresh meat that are packed and placed in a self-service refrigerated counter. When the meat are packed they place a Smart Chip on the package and the chip can be read by integrated RFID readers in the refrigerator. The Smart Chip is using EPC (Electronic Product Code) that can contain all kind of data. Here is an example on data stored in the Smart Chip.By using this system the Master Butcher shop will get a message when they are running low on some goods so they can quickly start producing more fresh meat packages. They will also get a message when any of the goods are closing in on the best before date.
They also have several different ways of paying for the goods you buy at the Future Store. You can pay by using your finger prints, self scanning or by using the Mobile Shopping Assistant.
If you are in the Toenisvorst area sometime I would recommend you to stop at the Future Store, I know that I would.
RFID is today mainly used for production tracking, fleet management and logistics. There are a few places where this is used by public services like ticket systems. The French public rails trials a RFID/USB combo ticket system with 1000 users.
Hopefully it will not be too long before we, the public, can take advantages of the RFID technology.