Procter and Gamble experiment with RFID

The iPod running kit paper also notes that Procter & Gamble have collaborated with Walmart recently to test out RFIDs hidden in products. The aim of the test was to check whether RFID could be used to check inventory levels in the stores. When shoppers found out the reaction was predictable: they were a number of irate reactions to the ‘cover up’ of ‘secret study’ of ‘controversial spy chip technology’! Read in this context, these concerns see to be pretty daft. If you stuck a student with a clipboard noting who bought what on the corner of a couple of aisles, it would not be an issue. If you made the shelf a little more intelligent so that it detected the weight of the products in it, no-one would mind. Of course, we are assuming that Procter & Gamble take a lot more care with their RFID devices than Apple and Nike do. A P&G spokesperson said that the chips could only be read by special readers held no further than a half inch away and were largely useless after being removed from the store.

The Nike+iPod FAQ answers the personal privacy question slightly ambiguously: “
Does it use GPS and does this mean you can track my movements?
No.”

Users are encouraged to leave the device on:
“Is the sensor battery replaceable? How long does it last?
No. The sensor’s battery has a life of over 1000 active hours. The sensor sends a low battery signal when there is around 2 weeks of life remaining (based on usage pattern), indicating that the sensor needs to be replaced.

Most Nike + iPod runners and walkers can just drop the sensor in their Nike+ shoes and forget about it. When inactive, the sensor enters stand-by mode to save battery life.

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