Recently I was listening to a talk—ostensibly about the future—in which the smartphone was pictured as an evolutionary end point that would last indefinitely. I thought, Nothing is forever, and forever comes very quickly in technology. I started to worry about what would come after the smartphone, and what the end of the smartphone’s dominance would mean to the electronics industry.
The smartphone has been an incredible success, both in technological and business terms. I often think of it as the pinnacle of engineering brilliance. There is an entire ecosystem of parts, systems, software, even design philosophy, that has built up around it. Anything that can be made from smartphone technology can be made quickly, easily, and inexpensively. It has been the most successful electronics product ever.
But there are dark clouds on the horizon. The good news is that practically everyone has one. The bad news is that practically everyone has one. Moreover, the new models seem to offer diminishing advances in performance and features that are easily apparent to users. The ads for Apple’s iPhone often say that the new model is its best iPhone ever. Well, duh, of course. Imagine if the ads said that the new model wasn’t quite as good as the previous one!
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In addition to the all-important gates or pedestals you walk through, the most important components of EAS systems include the following:
- Disposable tags — Disposable paper tags and labels are available in many different types — pressure-sensitive labels with simulated bar codes, tags or labels that can be imprinted with price, inventory, promotional or bar-code information, and tags specially designed for products such as earrings, compact discs and cosmetics, which are all items easily pocketed by shoplifters. These thin, adhesive-backed labels can be as small as a paper clip and can be easily disguised to look like standard retail tags. Most importantly, the radio frequency tags, unlike tags connected to some electromagnetic sensors, can’t be disrupted by common magnets.
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Security experts say the most effective anti-shoplifting tools these days are CCTV and the tag-and-alarm systems, better known as electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems. Separately, these are good options. Used together, experts say, they’re almost unbeatable. EAS is a technology used to identify articles as they pass through a gated area in a store. This identification is used to alert someone that unauthorized removal of items is being attempted. According to the Association of Automated Identification Manufacturers, over 800,000 EAS systems have been installed worldwide, primarily in the retail arena. EAS systems are useful anywhere there is an opportunity for theft of items of any size. Using an EAS system enables the retailer to display popular items on the floor, where they can be seen, rather than putting them in locked cases or behind the counter.
Loss prevention expert Robert L. DiLonardo, says new EAS technologies are being produced — not only to reduce shoplifting — but also to help increase sales, lower labor costs, speed inventory, improve stockroom logistics and, one day, to replace inventory record-keeping. But for now, we’ll stick to the role of EAS in battling shoplifting in your imaginary store!
Three types of EAS systems dominate the retail industry. In each case, an EAS tag or label is attached to an item. The tag is then deactivated, or taken from an active state where it will alarm an EAS system to an inactive state where it will not flag the alarm. If the tag is a hard, reusable tag, a detacher is used to remove it when a customer purchases the item it’s attached to. If it’s a disposable, paper tag, it can be deactivated by swiping it over a pad or with a handheld scanner that “tells” the tag it’s been authorized to leave the store. If the item has not been deactivated or detached by the clerk, when it is carried through the gates, an alarm will sound.
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The future of biometrics holds great promise for law enforcement applications, as well for private industry uses. By measuring facial geometry, surveillance systems can identify suspects against characteristics stored in the security system’s database. “There is a popular tendency to regard biometric products as sci-fi mythology, but the reality is that biometrics is the future of the security industry and is quickly becoming recognized as the most accurate identification technology in the market,” claims Don Mihae who was recently hired by JAD Communication & Safety Systems (JADCS) to lead its security division.
Biometrics’ future will include e-commerce applications for extra security on the checkout page, and biometrics will guard against unauthorized access to cars and cell phones. In the future, biometric technology will further develop 3-D infrared facial recognition access control, real-time facial recognition passive surveillance, and visitor management authentication systems. Already A4Vision, a provider of 3-D facial scanning and identification software uses specialized algorithms to interpret the traditional 2-D camera image and transfer it into a 3-D representation of a registered face. This makes it almost impossible to deceive the biometric system with still photos or other images.
Strengthening existing biometric innovations for future growth
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