Essentially, RFID is a new and powerful bar code, allowing scanning and product tracking without having to phyically touch the product. This is a technology that would allow you to check out at the grocery store without removing anything from your cart.
Where Gillette blew it was in using this technology in a weird and disturbing way. Whenever a customer picked up a pack of razors from the test rack, a tiny camera would take the person’s picture.
Gillette seems to have missed a point about human nature here: People get really, really freaked out if you take their picture without their permission. Even in London, where it’s more of a fact of life that you’ll be on a closed-circuit camera at some point in your day, people are quick to jump on the 1984 references.
RFID is an exciting technology that could be very helpful in certain situations like tracking products through the supply chain, but it’s very important that it’s not marketed to the public at large using fear, as the industry itself is attempting to do right now, saying that RFID is helpful in fighting terrorists. This makes about as much sense my favorite poster, which hangs in a relative’s washroom.
Apparently if Gillette doesn’t get a picture of my mug when I’m paying twelve dollars for Mach 3 blades, the terrorists will have won.
For more on innovative technologies, be sure to check out our feature 5 Technologies That Will Change the World.