General Cable Datacom Catalog General Cable. T elephone Form No.
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A method of maintaining a status of a product is provided in which indicating data is generated at a sensing device from data encoded by a tag of a plurality of tags tiled across the product through interaction of the sensing device with the tag at any orientation of the product, and the indicating data is transferred to a computer system to cause updating of a status of the product stored by the computer system.
The encoded data of each tag used to generate the indicating data includes an identity of the product and an identity of a region of the product on which that tag is tiled. The status of the product is updated in accordance with the product and region identities of the indicating data. This invention relates to unique object identification and, in particular, to methods and systems for identifying and interacting with objects.
Various methods, systems and apparatus relating to the present invention are disclosed in the following co-pending applications filed by the applicant or assignee of the present invention with the present application:. Various methods, systems and apparatus relating to the present invention are disclosed in the following co-pending applications filed by the applicant or assignee of the present invention.
The disclosures of all of these co-pending applications are incorporated herein by cross-reference.
The disclosures of all of these co-pending applications and granted patents are incorporated herein by cross-reference. The reference to any prior art in this specification is not, and should not be taken as, an acknowledgement or any form of suggestion that the prior art forms part of the common general knowledge. For the purposes of automatic identification, a product item is commonly identified by a digit Universal Product Code UPC , encoded machine-readably in the form of a printed bar code.
The most common UPC numbering system incorporates a 5-digit manufacturer number and a 5-digit item number. Because of its limited precision, a UPC is used to identify a class of product rather than an individual product item.
Within supply chain management, there is considerable interest in expanding or replacing the UPC scheme to allow individual product items to be uniquely identified and thereby tracked. There are two main contenders for individual item tagging: visible two-dimensional bar codes, and radio frequency identification RFID tags. There are a significant number of different bar code symbologies, which allow data to be encoded as 2D visible markings, and these include, for example:.
Bar codes have the advantage of being inexpensive, but require optical line-of-sight for reading and in some cases appropriate orientation of the bar code relative to the sensor. Additionally they often detract from the appearance of the product label or packaging. Finally, damage to even a relatively minor portion of the bar code can prevent successful detection and interpretation of the bar code. RFID tags have the advantage of supporting omnidirectional reading, but are comparatively expensive.
Additionally, the presence of metal or liquid can seriously interfere with RFID tag performance, undermining the omnidirectional reading advantage. Passive reader-powered RFID tags are projected to be priced at 10 cents each in multi-million quantities by the end of , and at 5 cents each soon thereafter, but this still falls short of the sub-one-cent industry target for low-price items such as grocery.
The read-only nature of most optical tags has been cited as a disadvantage, since status changes cannot be written to a tag as an item progresses through the supply chain. However, this disadvantage is mitigated by the fact that a read-only tag can refer to information maintained dynamically on a network. EPCs are technology-neutral and can be encoded and carried in many forms. EPCs are intended not just for unique item-level tagging and tracking, but also for case-level and pallet-level tagging, and for tagging of other logistic units of shipping and transportation such as containers and trucks.
The distributed PML database records dynamic relationships between items and higher-level containers in the packaging, shipping and transportation hierarchy. They distinguish the benefits which accrue at different stages in the supply chain e.
In addition, the case studies implicitly adopt a very optimistic view of the omni-directional scanning performance of RFID in the presence of radiopaque product, i. More broadly, the case studies do not clearly recognise benefits already beginning to accrue from systemic supply chain changes, such as better utilisation of UPC-based scan data collected at the point-of-sale, increasingly automated reordering and replenishment, and improving levels of communication and data sharing between different participants in the supply chain.
This in turn tends to overstate the benefits of these technologies. The case studies implicitly assume that tagged units can be accurately scanned in bulk, e. In practice this means that pallets of radiopaque product must be split so that individual cases can be conveyed past tag readers, precluding pallet-level operations including storage and dock-to-dock transfer.
Although not directly explored in the Alien study, the same restrictions apply at the item level. For example, while the case study on obsolescence Alexander, K. As with case-level RFID scanning in the distribution center, item-level RFID scanning in the retail store works best when items are handled individually, such as during stock movement to and from shelves, and during the checkout process, i. The case studies generally conclude that benefits accrue predominantly from case-level tagging when the case is the primary unit of product movement, which remains true right through the supply chain to the retail store backroom.
Benefits from item-level tagging begin to accrue in the retail store once cases are split and product hits the shelves, and these benefits fall into three main categories: a reduced shrinkage rate; a reduced unsaleable rate; and reduced out-of-stocks with less safety stock.
These benefits are discussed in detail below. Stage-relevant tagging levels are illustrated in FIG. The case studies assume seven product categories, summarised in Table 1. For every product category except grocery, the case studies conclude that item-level tagging is cost-effective. Specifically, the case studies do not consider item-level RFID tagging in grocery to be cost-effective because of the high cost of RFID tags relative to the average item price.
Conversely, it may become easier to justify from the point of view of sunk investment in reader infrastructure. The case studies therefore make a convincing argument for case-level RFID tagging for all product categories. Additionally item-level RFID tagging may be used for more expensive items.
With item-level tagging, each product item is assigned a unique EPC at time of manufacture. The item's EPC then serves as a key into a distributed PML database which records the characteristics of the item and its evolving history as it proceeds through the supply chain.
This includes the item's inclusion in a dynamic hierarchy of packaging, shipping and transportation units, each identified by its own unique EPC. Tracking of higher-level units through the supply chain implicitly support the tracking of lower-level units. For example, once a pallet is loaded and until it is unloaded and split, pallet-level tracking is sufficient to also track its case-level content.
Similarly, once a carton is filled and until it is re-opened and split, case-level tracking is sufficient to also track its item-level content. Readers installed in entry and exit portals in factories, warehouses, distribution centers and retail stores can automatically track unit movements and update movement histories. Notwithstanding issues with automatically tracking radiopaque product, RFID readers have benefits for pallet-level and case-level tracking.
At the checkout, the unique EPC of the item prevents it from being recorded as a sale more than once. This allows the checkout to be partially or fully automated. Automatic scanning of a traditional UPC bar code, which only identifies item class, is problematic because multiple scans of the same item are difficult to avoid and impossible to detect from the bar code alone.
In an automatic checkout the EPC of an item is typically read many times to ensure that the EPC is read at all, but is only recorded as a sale once. The unique EPC also prevents the checkout operator from multi-scanning a single item to account for a number of similar items, a common time-saving practice which can lead to inventory inaccuracy and thereby undermine automatic reordering and replenishment.
It has been suggested that an RFID-based automatic checkout process can be as simple as wheeling a shopping cart full of RFID-tagged product items through a checkout zone continuously scanned by one or more RFID readers. In reality, due to issues with radiopaque grocery items, an RFID-based automatic checkout is likely to require each item to pass through the RFID reader's field individually. This may happen when the customer places the item in the cart, i.
Similarly, whilst the use of item-level RFID tagging arguably makes it possible to construct so-called smart shelves which incorporate RFID readers and continuously monitor RFID-tagged shelf content, practically this is once again subject to performance in the presence of radiopaque product. The cost of the RFID tag approach is particularly of importance in the grocery sector which is characterised by high-volume sales of low-priced product items, coupled with low net margins.
In the United States grocery sector achieved net profits of 1. During the same period the grocery sector experienced a shrinkage rate of 1.
Profitable operation in the grocery sector therefore relies on maximising efficiency, minimising losses due to shrinkage, minimising losses due to unsaleables, and minimising out-of-stocks while minimising levels of safety stock. Table 2 summarises these sources of loss in the grocery sector.
The grocery sector is likely to significantly reduce these sources of loss over the coming decade, independently of item-level tagging, by better utilising UPC-based scan data collected at the point-of-sale, by increasing the level of automation of reordering and replenishment, and by improving communication between different participants in the supply chain.
Furthermore, the benefits of item-level tagging itself only accrue if such systemic changes actually take place. However, the cost of apply RFID tags to provide item level tagging to further enhance loss reduction is currently cost prohibitive. As shown in Table 2, the cost of shrinkage, unsaleables and out-of-stocks amounts to about 2. Further assuming universal tagging of grocery items, and ignoring other costs and benefits of item-level tagging, such as the cost of the reader infrastructure and the benefit of an improved consumer experience, 4.
The Auto-ID Center hopes to achieve a 5 cent EPC-compatible passive RFID tag within the next couple of years, and Alien Technology are moving towards that goal with a tag design which they expect to price at 10 cents in multi-billion tag volumes by the end of Ghassali, M. However, the 5 cent tag goal is still highly speculative, and even in multi-billion tag volumes there is currently no projected timeline for achieving an RFID tag price lower than 5 cents. Since even wildly optimistic projected cost savings only marginally justify the cost of the most optimistically-priced RFID tags, it is unlikely that universal item-level RFID tagging in the grocery sector is justified in the foreseeable future.
In addition to this however, other disadvantages of the RFID tagging scheme, such as the difficulty of scanning in the presence of radiopaque products, and issues surrounding privacy, make the use of RFID tags undesirable in item-level tagging of more expensive products even where the RFID cost becomes negligible.
It is therefore desirable to find an alternative to the use of RFID tags for item level tagging which ensures reliable item identification, which does not suffer from drawbacks such as reduced privacy for the consumer. It is also preferable that the technique provides a lower cost alternative thereby allowing it to be economically used on grocery items. In a first aspect the present invention provides a method of maintaining a status of a product, the method comprising the steps of:.
Optionally, the indicating data is generated to be indicative of a status mode selected with the sensing device. Optionally, the status mode is selected by at least one of using an input of the sensing device and sensing one or more tags on the product. Optionally, at least part of the status represents an inventory. Optionally, at least part of the status represents a shopping list. Optionally, each tag is indicative of an EPC associated with the product.
Preferred and other embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of non-limiting example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:.
In the preferred embodiment, the invention is configured to work with the netpage networked computer system, a detailed overview of which follows. It will be appreciated that not every implementation will necessarily embody all or even most of the specific details and extensions discussed below in relation to the basic system. However, the system is described in its most complete form to reduce the need for external reference when attempting to understand the context in which the preferred embodiments and aspects of the present invention operate.
In brief summary, the preferred form of the netpage system employs a computer interface in the form of a mapped surface, that is, a physical surface which contains references to a map of the surface maintained in a computer system.
The map references can be queried by an appropriate sensing device. Depending upon the specific implementation, the map references may be encoded visibly or invisibly, and defined in such a way that a local query on the mapped surface yields an unambiguous map reference both within the map and among different maps. The computer system can contain information about features on the mapped surface, and such information can be retrieved based on map references supplied by a sensing device used with the mapped surface.
The information thus retrieved can take the form of actions which are initiated by the computer system on behalf of the operator in response to the operator's interaction with the surface features. In its preferred form, the netpage system relies on the production of, and human interaction with, netpages.
These are pages of text, graphics and images printed on ordinary paper, but which work like interactive web pages. Information is encoded on each page using ink which is substantially invisible to the unaided human eye. The ink, however, and thereby the coded data, can be sensed by an optically imaging pen and transmitted to the netpage system. In the preferred form, active buttons and hyperlinks on each page can be clicked with the pen to request information from the network or to signal preferences to a network server.
General Cable Datacom Catalog 105414
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US20090261171A1 - Finger Tip Data Reading Device - Google Patents
A method of maintaining a status of a product is provided in which indicating data is generated at a sensing device from data encoded by a tag of a plurality of tags tiled across the product through interaction of the sensing device with the tag at any orientation of the product, and the indicating data is transferred to a computer system to cause updating of a status of the product stored by the computer system. The encoded data of each tag used to generate the indicating data includes an identity of the product and an identity of a region of the product on which that tag is tiled. The status of the product is updated in accordance with the product and region identities of the indicating data. This invention relates to unique object identification and, in particular, to methods and systems for identifying and interacting with objects. Various methods, systems and apparatus relating to the present invention are disclosed in the following co-pending applications filed by the applicant or assignee of the present invention with the present application:.
request for proposal rfp # 12-04 - San Joaquin County
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