By now, RFID technology has been employed in some useful as well as some very frivolous pursuits (breakfast, anyone?)
As the pace of adoption for this technology has slowed somewhat, the ecosystem of tech-savvy companies involved have continued to find new markets for their products.
The latest one I've seen (h/t to Jon here at IW) has to do with RFID tracking user behavior when reading magazines.
According to a RFID Journal story, a German magazine called Focus wanted to understand the reading habits and interests of its subscribers (and obviously wasn't satisfied with the usual reader survey). Therefore, the publisher undertook a technology trial that supplied participants with a RFID-enabled issue, as well as a magazine holder/reader device.
Six households among the publications' subscribers participated in a test in which RFID technology was used to ascertain which pages of advertisements and editorial content were viewed by a total of 14 individuals in those households.
Not a big enough sample to really tell you anything, plus the novelty probably actually inhibited true user behavior. Not to mention the fact that, as a newsweekly similar to Time, Focus is probably mostly fluff-filled flipbook (unlike your typical jam-packed IndustryWeek issue, of course).
The whole thing sounds rather clunky, as you'd probably expect from a tech pilot program:
When the unopened magazine was placed inside the holder, the built-in RFID interrogator was able to detect all tags. Once the magazine's cover was opened, however, the interrogator detected all tags except for the one on the cover page, because as the cover was lifted up and to the left, the tag was moved out of range. As the next page was opened, the interrogator could see all tags but the ones attached to the cover and first inside page, and so forth, until the participant arrived at the last page of the magazine, and the interrogator had zero RFID tags within its range.
Of course I realize that this effort was as much about publicity as anything else, but still -- the research director there says she expects some sort of ROI at some point:
Deisenberg says Focus performed the test because the technology has the potential to provide greater insight into the reading habits and interests of its subscribers. Such information is golden to its editorial department, the company says, as well as to its advertisers.
It had better be golden, because I'm sure they spent a mint on it.