Further to the radio tagging of Japanese school children, I came across an interesting article on Wired which discusses the rise of RFID (electronic tagging) in the consumer marketplace. It covers most angles, including why the tags will be of huge importance to retailers, of great interest to manufacturers and may be troublesome for consumers.

From a retailer’s point of view, stock control will be complete and automated. Manufacturer’s will have a better idea what you bought, when and some info to ascertain why. For consumers it could be good, the idea of walking round a shop and then straight to your car – with your account debited automatically – sounds great, but the possibility of paying more for an item because stock is low is a bit of a kick in the teeth.

As for the privacy issues, I can see how this technology could be abused easily, but the article actually hints at the solution:

“Manufacturers and retailers get the in-store benefits of RFID but devise convenient ways to kill the tags before shoppers leave the store.”

Whether or not the manufacturers and retailers – the people with the money and therefore the power in this equation – would be happy with that kind of solution, watching billions of potential market tie-ins disappear, is another matter altogether.

Me? I’m classic early adopter, although I am becoming more cautious in my old age, so I’d like to see these kind of systems introduced sooner rather than later. With the caveat that privacy will be assured of course.

More info
RFID News blog