Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology will move into the mainstream this year as more retailers follow Wal-Mart in demanding that manufacturers and distributors introduce electronic tagging into the retail supply chain.
UK retailers Tesco, Selfridges and House of Fraser all recently announced RFID trials to track goods from point of manufacture to the shop shelf, using computer chips and antennas.
And in the US, analyst firm IDC predicts RFID spending in the retail supply chain to grow from $91.5m in 2003 to nearly $1.3bn in 2008.
But with more than 30 privacy and civil liberties groups demanding a halt to RFID tagging in consumer goods, there is still plenty of resistance to its introduction in the high street.
So will it be retailers' or consumers' privacy that prevails in 2004? Or better still, will we find a happy medium?
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