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D2.2: Set of use cases and scenarios

Current Technology: Loyalty Cards  Title:
 Potential Scenario


Emerging Technology: Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID)

The first clear step towards the ubiquitous computing scenario is the use of Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) tags in supermarket product packaging. Although similar to the security tags that wirelessly detect if a product is being removed without payment from the store, RFID tags are unique identifiers which allow an individual item (not just type of product) to be wirelessly detected. In this way they are more useful to the supermarket than product barcodes, since the tags can not only reveal the product (and thus the price at the till), but which batch it actually came from and other data regarding its history that may have been logged. This could allow a centralised system to keep account of any items due to expire on the shop shelves which should be moved to a more prominent position for quicker purchase, or items that are running out of stock and need reordering.

Ultimately the aim is to tag every item sold, including food, clothes, electronic goods and medicine, with an internet database that holds a record of every item. Current trial applications have seen the tagging of razor blades such that a security camera can be activated when the product is removed from the shelf, in an attempt to reduce theft of these high value items. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already announced plans for medicines to be tagged, in an attempt to combat counterfeiting of drugs such as Viagra. Although useful in the supply-side context, the exploitation of these unique identifiers after sales is a privacy concern.

Beyond the retail application, tagging of banknotes has been proposed as an anti counterfeiting and money laundering method and tags in plane tickets have been trialled to help locate passengers within the airport. School children have been issued RFID cards in parts of Japan to keep track of their movements, whilst others have had small tags sewn into their clothing. Similar systems have been trialled in hospitals to increase medical efficiency such as medicine distribution, and amusement parks have utilised RFID bracelets to help track children who have gone astray.

In more invasive procedures, human implantation of RFID devices has also been proposed for a variety of applications. In 1998, Professor Kevin Warwick of the Department of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, UK became one of the first people to have such a device implanted. By being able to track and uniquely identify him, the departmental building was able to build a profile of his behaviour, and customise it to his preferences, including adjusting light levels, starting his computer, and even brewing the coffee on his arrival. 



Figure 8‑: Prof. Kevin Warwick has a 2cm long identifying implant (shown enlarged, right) surgically inserted into his arm

In other applications, some four years later, implanted identifying tags have been commercialised to essentially replace ‘medic alert’ bracelets and to relay medical details when linked with an online medical database. Other implanted devices have been used to allow the individual access to secure areas, and even to identify clubbers such that payment for drinks can be automatically debited from their account.



Current Technology: Loyalty Cards  fidis-wp2-del2.2.Cases_stories_and_Scenario_04.sxw  Potential Scenario
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