GTAG (Global Tag) is a standardization initiative of the Uniform Code Council (UCC) and the European Article Numbering Association (EAN) for asset tracking and logistics based on radio frequency identification (RFID). EAN and UCC launched the GTAG project in March of 2000, and - along with input from international companies including Philips Semiconductors, Intermec, and Gemplus - are expected to publish their final guidelines by May 2002. The Initiative intends to increase the range and complexity of typical current RFID applications, such as automatic road toll collection and anti-theft technologies, to sophisticated smart tag RFID products as small as a postage stamp that can be used to track inventory and deter theft, among a myriad of potential uses.
The RFID smart tag devices are basically very small database applications that receive information via radio frequency (RF) waves. In the future, this capability will automate an increasing number of tasks. For example, a library patron or store customer would no longer have to stop at a cash register or a library check out. RFID devices would store information about both the patron and their selections, which would be transmitted to electronic equipment and updated in all associated system components. The RFID devices are still much more expensive than the magnetic tags commonly used now (about $1 per tag, compared to $.03), but as prices come down and the practical and cost benefits of RFID smart tags become more widely known, they are likely to be seen in an increasing number of applications. There are still some privacy and security issues to be resolved however, since the information stored in tags - which may not be encrypted - can be read by anyone with the requisite equipment, to a distance of several feet.
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