Product identification

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Current situation[edit]

Currently most retail products have barcodes that uniquely identify a product within a store. There are a wide variety of barcode systems in use, the most prevalent being EAN (Europe) and UPC (US). Both of these schemes are contained within GTIN space, which stands for Global Trade Item Number.

Future developments[edit]

Barcodes[edit]

In 2005 all US barcode readers should be upgraded so that they can read EAN as well as UPC thus reducing the need for redundant relabeling of products imported in US. Input methods for barcodes are described in Hardware Requirements among other places


Near Field Communications[edit]

Near Field Communication Technology could make this a snap since it operates only at distances under 15cm and enables bootstrapping other short-range wireless protocols such as Bluetooth. If NFC devices were embedded into shelves with appropriate iconic and textual representations it would make for really intuitive access to features provided by Consumerium Services


Conductive ink and conductive plastic[edit]

Research into printing electronics with conductive ink and conductive plastics are really hot areas of research in Finland for some time now.

Using either conductive ink or conductive plastic covering in the package and then swiping the package, touching the reader, promises to enable storing much more information in the package itself without the use of RFID, which is a good developlement


RFID[edit]

An possibly upcoming technology in Product identification is RFID which stands for Radio Frequence IDentification. RFID technology has raised concerns of misuse, such as covert involuntary tagging wherein you don't know you are carrying a RFID tag.

To counter these kinds of threats we encourage to develop touch activated RFID wherein the RFID tag requires conduction of electricity instead of induction to activate itself. These Conduction RFID tags would be a ecologically sane option for product identification if they were embedded in the retail shelf with iconic and/or textual indexing to products in the shelf for high usability. This way the packaging wouldn't have to contain wasteful, disposable chips.