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How It Works

You’re probably familiar with the bar code scanners in the retail stores in the high street. These scanners are used by retailers to take inventory of their items and also to scan your items as you check out. Bar code scanners do this by reading the printed bar code label on each item. This is known as the universal product code (UPC).

RFID can be used as a way for intelligent objects to communicate. Rather than a printed UPC bar code, an electronic product code (ePC) comprising a tag or “smart label” containing an RFID chip can be attached to an item and used to store its description and price information. What’s more, the ePC can be written to and read from, so important information about the product can be updated without having to attach a new tag or smart label. Retailers such as the Gap are even experimenting with attaching RFID readers to their store shelving so the readers can interact with their merchandise, such as pairs of jeans equipped with RFID tags, on a continuous basis. In this way, they can monitor in-store inventory and also better understand buyer behavior as clothing is picked up, put back on the shelving, or purchased.


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