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To Glimpse RFID's Future Down Under, Gaze into the EPCmagic Mirror

Co-developed by NEC Australia and GS1 Australia, the device reads RFID tags attached to items, displaying product information to shoppers and providing insights to retailers regarding customer shopping habits and preferences.
By Dave Friedlos
Providing information about matching accessories could also encourage increased sales, Iacovitti says. "The EPCmagic Mirror can provide as much information as the retailer would like," he explains. "The goal is to provide information and recommendations to increase sales at the point of sale, in much the same way that online retailers do."

Another exciting benefit, he adds, is data mining and business intelligence. By examining such data as which products were purchased or discarded after being tried on by customers, retailers could obtain important information and intelligence pertaining to buying habits and patterns it would not otherwise be able to capture.

Sue Schmid, GS1 Australia's general manager of standards development, agrees that the mirror offers some exciting and innovative benefits to retailers and their customers. "This mirror provides yet another improvement to a shopper's experience, as the amount of information that can be provided is limitless," she says. "But it will provide practical benefits to retailers by delivering business intelligence on buying habits or inventory."

Demonstrating RFID's benefits to retailers was the reason GS1 Australia decided to jointly fund and develop the mirror, Schmid says. "Our goal at GS1 Australia is to generate interest in RFID technology and EPCglobal standards," she says. "We want to show retailers with no interest in RFID just what can be done with the technology. This mirror goes well beyond traditional supply chain operations, and is sure to stir interest."

Other companies have developed and demonstrated similar mirrors (see Magicmirror Could Assist Retail Customers, Hong Kong Shoppers Use RFID-enabled Mirror to See What They Want and Metro Group's Galeria Kaufhof Launches UHF Item-Level Pilot). But NEC Australia says the EPCmagic Mirror has an advantage over other RFID-enabled versions, because it is provided by a single vendor. According to Iacovitti, NEC will be able to offer a complete managed service that includes radio frequency identification, digital signage and broadband connectivity—and because the EPCmagic Mirror is made with off-the-shelf technology, it is available today.

"We could provide the EPCmagic Mirror now for as little as $250 a month," Iacovitti says. "The novelty of the interactive screens could bring customers back and provide an instant financial benefit, which is important if the retail market continues to decline. But ideally, the mirror will be part of a managed service that includes broadband network, RFID software and hardware and digital signage."

NEC Australia will begin marketing the EPCmagic Mirror at retail trade shows, Iacovitti adds, as well as to existing customers and GS1 Australia's partners. "There are a number of channels to market," he notes, "but our goal is to develop Australia as a center of RFID excellence before promoting the mirror to Asia and around the globe."

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