Boosting retailers' efficiencies more than a game for Arkansas researchers

RFID, imaging research centers using 2D, 3D technologies to help retailers

Two University of Arkansas research centers, one focused on RFID and the other on imaging technologies, have joined forces on technologies that could make retailers much more efficient.

The RFID Research Center in the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST) in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences will also work to develop standards to encourage widespread adoption of the technologies.

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The Arkansas researchers are exploiting the sort of 2D and 3D imaging technologies used in cellphones and video game systems such as Microsoft Kinect to visually identify objects by color, shape and size -- information that when synced with databases can be invaluable for keeping store shelves stocked and warehouse systems running smoothly.

“There are millions of devices in the hands of retailers and consumers across the United States today that can take a picture of an item – an apple or a detergent bottle, for example – send that picture to a server and then let software automatically identify the item,” said Justin Patton, managing director of the RFID Center, in a statement.  “The process is as simple as scanning a barcode, but it works from all angles and can capture many items at once. An image is enough, and the hardware is cheap.” 

The research centers have been working for the past few years to compile data on stores and items that will be put into a database of standard objects that could be usable by later this year.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +.

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