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GS1 Releases Guidelines for RFID-based Electronic Article Surveillance
An RFID-based EAS system is already being tested by German retailer Metro Group, using Checkpoint technology to manage inventory, and to deter and track theft.
"We think this is very exciting," says Paul Cataldo, Checkpoint's VP of global marketing. "We see it as another way for retailers to make the case for RFID."
Without any RFID technology, an EAS system can send an alert when someone walks out of a store with an unpurchased product, but management has no visibility into the number of items taken, or which items they were.
However, says Venkat Krishnamurthy, Checkpoint's chief technology officer, the RFID-based EAS system being recommended by GS1's guide will require additional development before it becomes commercially available. Multiple issues need to be considered, including how the tags would be best affixed. Paper tags attached to garments, for example, could be torn off by a prospective thief in a store. Checkpoint recommends attaching the tag at the point of manufacture, in such a way that the tag would be difficult to be removed by a thief—for instance, sewing it into a garment. Consumer privacy is another issue that needs to be considered, Krishnamurthy notes. For example, how would a retailer ensure that a tag, if it remains functional as it leaves a store after an item is purchased, can not be read and linked to the customer by another party?
Ensuring the technology does not allow inadvertent reads is another challenge RFID vendors have before them, Cataldo says. An example would be situations in which a doorway RFID interrogator reads the tag of an item passing nearby, thereby resulting in triggering a bogus alarm and recording that item as stolen. Checkpoint has resolved this problem, Cataldo adds, by focusing the interrogator's range to read only tags that pass through the doorway, rather than those simply in its vicinity. The company's engineers have accomplished this, according to Krishnamurthy, through adjustments of the reader technology, though he declines to provide further details. Checkpoint is the company best poised to create this solution, Cataldo says, since it has been a supplier of RF-based EAS solutions for the past 40 years, as well as having experience in offering RFID solutions for retailers.
The guides are available at no cost at EPCglobal's Web site.
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