June 27 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Information Year: General Rating: 8 Hot
By Dick Pelletier
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips will soon be used in stores at point-of-sale checkout to replace cashiers. Sensors can detect purchases and automatically charge your ATM or credit card – or direct you to a cash machine. Merchants eliminate cashiers, and in our competitive world, some of the savings gets passed on to customers in lower prices.
Wal-Mart recently ordered 100 of its suppliers to place RFID tags on pallets and cases. They plan to start with inventory control, and evolve into this new technology over the coming years. Target, Home Depot, Kroger, Safeway, and most other stores are expected to follow soon.
This revolutionary identification system also gives merchants more security. If a certain Beverly Hills store had installed RFID tags, a famous actress would not have been caught shoplifting. Sensors would have detected her purchases as she walked out the door, and automatically charged her credit card – no harm no foul.
RFID chips can also be implanted in our body. Whether it’s your little one’s first day walking home from the bus stop alone, or the millionth time she’s wandered too far from the house, a chip under her collarbone reports her exact location. You chart her every move. This allows her to become more independent, and it gives you greater peace of mind.
This is not as futuristic as it sounds. Driven by 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security, in its US-VISIT program, is testing biometrics in a $15 billion attempt to build a “virtual border” around the country. This high-priority project will use facial recognition, fingerprint, hand geometry, and iris and voice recognition in an attempt to separate bad guys from good guys.
The notion of surveillance chips installed in humans is the next logical step to provide fool-proof identity of who we are. VeriChip, of Palm Beach, Florida makes implants for human identification. About the size of a grain of rice, each VeriChip provides information that cannot be lost, stolen, or counterfeited.
But privacy mavens worry. Imagine if tiny traceable tags were placed in every product or article we consumed: in our jeans and sweaters, consumer goods, groceries, cars; even in our pets and livestock. At a recent California Senate hearing, Senator Debra Bowen asked: “How would you like it if your underwear was reporting your whereabouts?”
Industry representatives say this technology is coming on fast and cannot be stopped. By 2010, nearly all consumer products will be tagged – revealing who purchased them, how they are being used, and their present condition and location.
By 2015, voice-recognition techniques will enable products to talk – from your refrigerator, you might hear “the milk is turning sour, please replace it”. And by 2020, nearly everyone could be “chipped” to provide genetic code identification, health monitoring; even implants that provide electric shocks to criminals if they become dangerous.
By 2025, interactive chips will allow you to open doors, control appliances, and make video phone calls, with just your thoughts. And by 2030, implants could download information direct to your brain, enabling you to speak any language, or learn a new subject – without studying.
Will this technology unfold so quickly? Positive futurists believe that it will. Comments welcome.