By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2006-06-09 Print this article Print

From a price perspective, Stevens said that there is no significant price difference between RuBee and traditional RFID approaches. Abell added that RuBee could work well for razor blades and other higher-priced small items that are attractive to shoplifters.
A common technique used by shoplifters is to line a regular bag with aluminum foil and place stolen items in the bag, where the foil will prevent its RFID tag from communicating with anti-theft devices.
A RuBee-protected item would be able to easily communicate with its readers through the aluminum foil. Stevens sees RuBee as having the potential to track every product regardless of where it is, allowing for a Google-like system to report on where products are at any time. The IEEE statement announcing the work on the new protocol suggested one scenario for this kind of deployment: "IEEE P1902.1 will offer a real-time, tag-searchable protocol using IPv4 addresses and subnet addresses linked to asset taxonomies that run at speeds of 300 to 9,600 Baud. RuBee Visibility Networks are managed by a low-cost Ethernet enabled router. Individual tags and tag data may be viewed as a stand-alone, web server from anywhere in the world. Each RuBee tag, if properly enabled, can be discovered and monitored over the World Wide Web using popular search engines (e.g., Google) or via the Visible Assets .tag Tag Name Server." The statement also touted RuBees low power consumption. "One of the advantages of long-wavelength technology is that the radio tags can be low in cost, near credit card thin [1.5 mm] and fully programmable using 4 bit processors," the IEEE statement said. "Despite their high functionality, RuBee radio tags have a proven battery life of 10 years or more using low-cost, coin-size lithium batteries. The RuBee protocol works with both active radio tags and passive tags that have no battery." The P1902.1 effort "will provide for asset visibility networking that fills the gap between the non-networked, non-programmable, backscattered, RFID tags widely used for asset tracking and the high-bandwidth radiating protocols for IEEE 802.11 local area networks and IEEE 802.15 personnel area and data networks," the statement said. Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Evan Schuman is the editor of's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at

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