Groceries With No Checkout Line

Yesterday, when we drove to New York City, I had an opportunity to use my E-ZPass. This is one of God’s chosen inventions. Tie-ups at toll booths still happen, but nowhere near as frequently, nor with as long a wait as before. Often, with my E-ZPass, I zip through while cash customers vegetate in line.

The whole idea of E-ZPass got me to thinking about logical extensions. E-ZPass is just the first step in what will be a long list of changes brought about by RFID technology. RFID for Radio Frequency IDentification.

If your credit card had an RFID chip, like the E-ZPass, and every item in the grocery store was also tagged, there would be no need for a checkout line. Walk through the store, throw stuff in your basket, walk through a sensor and everything’s calculated and charged to your card. There’s no need to slow down.

Stores want this technology. They’ll have more selling space without registers and lines. There will also be fewer employees. Unfortunately, every time a human can be replaced by a machine, it’s bye bye human. We really can’t compete… and if we complain… well that’s part of why the machine wins in the first place.

There are scary downsides to RFID technology as well. I suppose the New Jersey Turnpike Authority could look at your E-ZPass check in and check out time, calculate the distance divided by time and decide if you should get a speeding ticket. E-ZPass says this won’t happen, but the concept can be adapted.

If you carry articles, like a credit card with RFID tags, your whereabouts could easily be tracked. I’m not doing anything nefarious or illegal, but I’d still be upset if anyone had the ability to pinpoint me 24/7.

Wal*Mart has recently instructed its largest suppliers to begin using RFIDs. They are still somewhat expensive, but with volume prices will come down.

The supermarket with no checkout line is coming, probably sooner rather than later.