Gillette has announced that it will begin the first large-scale testing of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag technology developed by researchers at the Auto-ID Center, headquartered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Starting in 2003 in partnership with selected retail customers, Gillette will begin testing tag technology through its supply chain by placing tiny RFID tags in select products for the US market.
If successful, up to half a billion tags could be placed on Gillette products over the next few years.
RFID tags are a form of identification similar to barcodes, except the information stored on a tag is interrogated by a reader using radio frequency waves rather than a light source.
The tags make it possible to track products through their production life cycle, from manufacturing to retail point of sale.
It is hoped that, over time, this technology will enable businesses not only to reduce losses resulting from out-of-stock, stolen or lost products, but also to improve efficiencies across their operations by monitoring the status and location of products.
The tags will be used with the ‘smart shelf’ technology (also developed for Gillette by the Auto-ID Center and MIT) that is scheduled to commence testing in stores in the United States and the UK in January 2003.
The shelf utilises Auto-ID technology to monitor the status of products on display. It will alert retail staff when stocks become low or are being stolen and will enable automatic re-ordering of products.
The tags are being manufactured and supplied by Alien Technology Corporation in California.