RFID Tags Will Become Ubiquitous–soon!

This from USA Today “For instance, the technology could have a profound impact on garbage. Never again would you have to sort recyclables from other garbage. Just throw it all together. At a garbage facility, trucks could dump their loads on a conveyor belt that goes past an RFID reader, which could identify the tags on the products going by — a glass Pepsi bottle, a plastic milk jug — and redirect them into appropriate recycling bins.

Stephen Ho, who just got his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calls his idea, which will only work once RFID is on every product, “location-relaxed storage.” It’s a funny euphemism in the tradition of calling a bald person follically challenged.

Basically it means that instead of organizing a warehouse by putting items in their carefully defined proper places, RFID will make it more efficient to just throw everything everywhere. It’s the total chaos warehouse.

How can that possibly work better? Well, picture an Amazon.com warehouse. A worker is looking at an order for one copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beagles and one copy of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Chances are that the spot for beagle books is far away from the spot for T.S. Eliot books. The worker has to zoom around the warehouse to fill the order.

Now let’s say every book has an RFID tag. Whenever a truckload of books arrives at the warehouse, instead of sorting them into defined slots, workers just shove them anywhere there’s an empty space. Copies of Idiot’s Guide to Beagles and Prufrock are scattered all around the building.

Because the books are scattered around the warehouse, one of each is likely to be nearby, making the worker more efficient — he might just have to walk a few steps to get both books. Ho mathematically proved that the chances are greater that both books would be closer when using this chaotic, location-relaxed storage system, vs. using an organized warehouse.

Of course, if the electricity goes out, the warehouse is hosed.