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 Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 09:03 GMT
Supermarket tries out smart tagging
Front of one of Tesco's stores
Tesco has gone shopping for smart goods
Smart razor blades have been introduced to the shelves of UK supermarket Tesco.

In a trial at Tesco's Newmarket Road branch in Cambridge, the packaging of Gillette Mach3 razor blades has been fitted with tiny chips.

The electronic radio tags will allow staff and customers to keep track of the goods in the store, according to Computing Magazine.

They will also help prevent shoplifting, tracking the razors from the shelf to the till and out of the door. If the product goes through the door without being paid for an alarm is set off.

Improved availability

Woman shopping
All kinds of goods could be tagged
The tags could feature on a wide range of food and non-food products in the future, telling staff which items are in stock, whereabouts they can be found and when they go out of date.

"Tagging products will lead to real improvements for both customers and staff with instant information and improved availability," said Tesco Technology director Colin Cobain.

The radio frequency identity tags have been developed by the Auto-ID Centre, a standards group set up at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and with research labs at Cambridge University.

Successor to barcodes

The smart tags are wirelessly connected to readers placed around the store on shelves and at the check-out.

Such tags are an improvement on old-fashioned barcodes because they can be read from a distance, speeding up the process of checking goods.

In the future, readers could be attached to distribution lorries and warehouses allowing supermarkets to keep track of the whole supply chain in a particular area.

The radio tags of the future could even remove the need to have check-out desks altogether as well as providing a new level of smart goods such as ice-cream that can tell your fridge if the temperature is too high.

See also:

18 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
04 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
16 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
12 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
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