Solutions News - NCR tackles RFID hostility with deactivation testing

EPoS hardware specialist NCR, in collaboration with the Auto ID Centre at MIT in the US, has embarked on a test programme to find out how RFID tagging can be used on the shopfloor and still protect customers' privacy.

RFID tagging on individual products has attracted condemnation from privacy lobby groups both here and in the US.

As a result, some high-profile retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Tesco, have been forced to scale back their RFID pilots at shopfloor level, although testing the technology in the supply chain goes on apace.

NCR is looking at ways to deactivate RFID tags in-store, thereby taking the sting out of claims that the technology can be used to track consumers' movements and habits.

'We are responding to a legitimate concern that the technology could be abused. This is an experiment to find out how we could achieve the benefits of RFID and still address these concerns. We are trying to provide a place where consumers can verify the tag has been deactivated or do it for themselves,' said NCR retail solutions division director of technology management Chris Herwig.

'We'd like to see it developed in the home more widely. There's a great deal RFID can bring in terms of monitoring products in the home.

'In clothing, RFID can help to retain certain information, such as sizes. We are trying to find out ways of killing sensitive data on the tag, but still leave useful information that might help in a future shopping experience.'

However, NCR has no plans to bring the technology to a live state in the near future.

Herwig said: 'We've no imminent plans to try this out in the store because the technology still has a long way to go before it is still fully reliable.

'The major limitation is in the readers and scanners. We may be able to bring something to market within the next two years.'