March 12, 2003
Immersive computing is (almost) here

The other important bit of futurism in todays Wired News is that the old dream of radio active physical objects. I'm not talking plutonium enriched milk, but rather products equipped with radio transmitters for identification. Ever since people first thought of the intelligent refrigerator (able to say "I'm out of cheese" to the supermarket service on its own) this has been a dream of many including Yours Truly - and of course an object of ridicule for even more people.
The first large scale application in the everyday world (i.e. outside industrial applications) is set to be Benetton clothing tags with RFID chips.
What's not so good about that is that the proximity of the clothes to your body means that they are effectively equipping you with a Radio Frequence ID chip - and that means that your Benetton store could soon be that annoying hyper personalized world that John Anderton tries to escape from in Minority Report.
However, until the IT-Department at Benetton screws up and publishes their customer database it is only Benetton who will be able to do that though, since the tag only identifies the garment. Indeed if well done it could simply provide opaque serial numbers and rely on alternate services to identify the specific garments a serial number refers to.

I think I'll coin a phrase to describe reactions to that experience : Identification Allergy.
This could soon be a very real and unpleasent experience (as failures in CRM systems and direct marketing has already made us intensely aware of)

But of course there are other problems to ponder first: What do washing instructions for silicon look like?

Posted by Claus at March 12, 2003 01:06 PM
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