Thursday, March 16, 2006

RFID arms race officially started

RFID tags haven't really hit the consumer space yet (and hopefully never will, because better alternatives are available), but the arms race between sneaky taggers and privacy-conscious consumers has already started.

And DIFRwear intends to become a major arms supplier on the consumer side, with blocking apparel based on the venerable principle of the Faraday cage. The company's first products are a wallet and a passport case.

This is a signal that should be picked up by everybody who considers building tracking techniques into their service model. People are becoming increasingly conscious of their privacy, and it doesn't help if tracking their behaviour becomes more intrusive than strictly necessary.

You don't need to tag everything and everybody in order to optimize your business: you can often use other techniques, such as QR codes or Colorzip icons.

There's a simple rule of thumb here: objects don't act, so these need to be tagged; they also don't need privacy. People can act on their own, so you want their cooperation. Make them react to your offers or instructions of their own free will; that way you create committed customers and you don't unnecessarily invade people's privacy.

And people won't start using large-scale countermeasures. Be warned.

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