An Internet of Food

March 03, 2006

Innovation Lab coordinates a new pilot demonstrating future uses of RFID in the prepared food sector. RFID tags are poised to replace the traditional bar code, not least because the tags allow producers and retailers to manage inventory and the supply chain more efficiently. But what might this technology mean for consumers? The project, which is funded by the Danish Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation, will explore how RFID tagging of ordinary supermarket purchases will affect how ordinary families experience their food, all the way from the shopping cart to the frying pan.

The project will trial a wide range of the new services which RFID tagging of food products will make possible:

• Expiry management: the refrigerator monitors product expiry dates, helping consumers avoid waste.
• Dietary and nutritional guidance.
• Food safety: direct information to consumers in case of product recall.
• Inspiration: Recipes and suggestions based on actual contents of refrigerator/cupboard.
• Inventory management: the contents of the refrigerator can be ‘seen’ without opening the door, even from the local supermarket.
• Marketing of related and/or complementary producter.

Each of the 20 participating families will be given a ‘kitchen console’ and RFID reader through which the digital product information linked to the RFID tags can be accessed. The console can also be used as an internet terminal (for recipe surfing and downloading, watching movies, playing video games, planning of family activities). Every week each family will receive a shopping basket of groceries in which each item is marked with an RFID ‘bar code’.

The project is a collaboration between Denmark’s leading packaged food producers and both public and private information and communications technology specialists.

RFID takes the Internet-based dialogue that has revolutionized marketing and product information to a new level of honesty, detail, and accessibility. Simply put, RFID tags make it possible to paste an entire homepage/website on the side of a milk carton or bunch of broccoli. Because the amount of information that can be shared isn’t limited by the physical boundaries of a product’s packaging, producers can communicate much more detailed and varied messages to consumers.

• The RFID tag links to a database on the internet. By pointing a reader at the tag, a user can download the information linked to that specific tag. The product’s label is in fact virtual, consisting of the information that appears on the display connected to the reader.
• The virtual product label can contain sound and video as well as text, which allows producers to experiment with multimedia content for different audiences and situations.
• The virtual product label isn’t static – it can be changed by updating the database on the net. This enables producers to update information even after the consumer has purchased the product.

The project ends in November 2006.

Posted by joakim-ditlev

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