Thursday, May 7, 2009
Whos Tracking My Sons Pants?
My dear sweet patient husband took us all shopping last weekend. Tommy Hilfiger was having a great sale so we purchased several shirts and pants for the boys. One of my sons brought me his new shirt and a pair of scissors to cut out a tag....not just any tag but a very unusual one that clearly had metal in it. At first I thought it may be a security device but upon further inspection determined it is a RFID tag. That stands for Radio Frequency Identification.I cut it open and in it are some metal strips and a tiny receiver. These tags are being used every where for many reasons. I must admit it is a little spooky to think that Mr Hilfiger is tracking my sons pants, but indeed that is what these tags are for.
Wal-Mart is requiring all their vendors to start using these tracking devices. They are used on everything from Orange Juice cartons to underwear. They are also being tested on pets and humans. RFIDs can be highly miniaturised, which makes it easy to conceal or incorporate them into tiny items. For example, in 2009 researchers at Bristol University successfully glued RFIDs to live ants in order to study their behavior.This trend towards increasingly miniaturized RFIDs is likely to continue as technology advances.
There are many many uses for these little transmitters. Passports, timing races, transportation , animal tracking, inventory, identity theft...huh? Identity Theft? Yep...sounds practical enough, but how much information do we want to share with Sam Walton or the Government? Who decides when enough is enough?