Magazine article Science News

Bar Codes May Check out Next: Printed RFID Tags Could Be Passively Scanned from Afar

Magazine article Science News

Bar Codes May Check out Next: Printed RFID Tags Could Be Passively Scanned from Afar

Article excerpt

Grocery checkout lines might become as obsolete as milkmen if a new tag meant to replace bar codes becomes common.

Researchers from Sunchon National University in Suncheon, South Korea, and Rice University in Houston have built a radio frequency identification tag that can be printed directly on cereal boxes and potato chip bags. The ink itself would broadcast information about each item in a grocery cart.

"You could run your cart by a detector and it tells you instantly what's in the cart," says James M. Tour of Rice University, whose research group invented the ink. "No more lines. You just walk out with your stuff."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

RFID tags are already used in passports, library books and gadgets that let drivers pay tolls without stopping. But those tags are made from silicon, which is more expensive than paper and has to be stuck onto the product as a second step.

The new tag, reported in the March IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, costs about three cents compared with about 50 cents for each silicon-based tag. …

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