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Category: RFID, Automated Data Collection, and oInternet of Things

RFID, AIDC and IoT New Round Up for Feb. 19, 2020


Is Walmart Ready for Item-Level RFID? RFID Diaper from MIT Alerts when a Change is Needed; RFID Blocking Wallets May be Smart after All


Feb. 19, 2020
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Below are three of the top stories in automated data collection, RFID and the Internet of Things in recent weeks.

Walmart Finally Ramping Up its Item Level RFID Program?

Not long after the collapse Walmart's program to have vendors put RFID tags at the carton level collapsed more than a decade ago, the retail giant seemed poised to roll-out item-level RFID to help it better manage in-store inventories, starting with the jeans category.

In fact, for a brief while some Walmart stores had warnings on store doors that RFID tags and readers were being used inside.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Maybe it is time to get an RFID blocking purse, wallet, fanny pack, etc. Or, SCDigest notes, save some money and just wrap your chip cards in aluminum foil.

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But like the case tagging program that preceded it, the item-level tagging program also went adrift.

10 years later, is RFID going to make a big comeback at Walmart?

A few weeks ago, stock market analyst Charles Anderson of financial firm Dougherty & Company issued a buy rating on leading RFID tag and reader maker Impinj, citing its own research that Walmart was going to launch an item-level tagging program for apparel goods later in 2020.

If accurate, such a move that would likely send Impinj's revenues up from selling products to Walmart and/or its apparel suppliers.

Though there is little clear evidence and no official news from Walmart as to such a program, the report had a big impact – at least on publically traded Impinj's stock price.

After the report, the price for Impinj stock rose quickly, up 24% in January.

The ride for Impinj shareholders has been very bumpy over several years, but lately the returns have been very strong indeed.

With Walmart publically saying it is making stores the center of its overall and ecommerce strategies, it would not be surprising for the company to launch a tagging program to ensure more accurate store inventories, as rival Target as already done, with apparent positive results.

Maybe We Really Do Need RFID Blocking Wallets

There have been many news stories in recent years on the threat that thieves would be able to surreptitiously read data on RFID-enabled credit and debit cards carried in purses and wallets, then using the purloined data to make purchases.

This would supposedly be accomplished by moving an RFID reader close to a victim and capturing the credit card data.

This led to birth of a small product market of companies selling so-called RFID blocking wallets, using metal shielding to block the readers from being able to interrogate the chips on the card.

This in turn led many RFID experts to say such RFID-blockers are in fact not needed, in part because of use of data encryption on newer generation chip cards – and the fact that according to some reports, there has never been a real world example of successful malicious RFID capture and use by some criminal.

At least until now.


(See More Below)



Mandy Lopez said she was shopping at the Walmart in Holly Springs last week when she got an alert from her credit card company, which told her someone was using her card, while she had it on her.

"I said, 'What Walmart was it?'," Lopez said. "He said, 'The Walmart in Holly Springs, North Carolina.' And I'm like, 'I'm standing in here.'"

She said they rang up about $250 on her card. Holly Springs police officers do in fact believe the thief or thieves had a reader, allowing them to get her credit card information, while it was in her purse.

So maybe it is time to get an RFID blocking purse, wallet, fanny pack, etc. Or, SCDigest notes, save some money and just wrap your chip cards in aluminum foil.

Using RFID to Alert when a New Diaper is Needed

There have been a number of attempts to use technology to alert parents when it is time to change a dirty diaper.

Some, like the TweetPee concept from diaper gIant Huggies way back in 2013, require clip-on hardware. Others require bulky batteries to power the wireless communications. The sensors needed for these types of devices can also retail for more than $40.

Now, scientists at MIT have announced a more cost effective option. The team's new smart diapers make use of an RFID tag that works with a hydrogel to form a cheap moisture sensor, which sends an alert to a caregiver when it's time for a change.

With MIT's technology, an RFID tag is printED as part of a label construction, which is then placed below a layer of hydrogel super absorbent polymer (SAP). As the hydrogel moistens, it expands and, thanks to copper embedded inside, becomes slightly conductive. This enables the RFID tag to send a radio signal to an RFID reader up to 1 meter (3.2 ft) away.

The RFID reader could be placed in the basinet or baby's room, and relay the signal to a parent's smartphone or computer. The MIT team estimates that the label with tag would costs less than two cents each to make.

The system would certainly seem to provide improved, um, visibility,

The research was published in the journal IEEE Sensors. Graphic above from MIT.

Any reaction to the stories in this week's roundup? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


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