Monday, June 28, 2004

Denmark on the forefront, RFID chips on kids makes Legoland safer

Just back from a two week trip to Denmark, I saw a news item on Denmarks most famous attraction.

Parents taking their children to Legoland theme parks this summer need not worry about losing little Johnny, Jesper or Johan thanks to advances in RFID technology.

Children entering the parks will be fitted with an RFID bracelet that can be tracked anywhere within its boundaries - meaning that should they run off and find themselves lost, the parks' staff will easily be able to track them down and alert parents via SMS.

The 'Kidspotter' scheme represents the latest in a string of innovative uses for RFID technology. However, not everybody is convinced that Lego's motives are as well-intentioned as the reassuring marketing for the scheme would suggest.

Leo Steiner, vice president for on-demand sales at IBM, who works closely with RFID, said: "Lego will now know exactly where each customer is, how long they are spending in each area and which products are proving to be most popular."

The knock-on effect of parents' making use of the scheme could be a more concerted and insightfully targeted marketing campaign for the perennially popular Lego brick toy sets.

But are privacy concerns simply a case of worrying for the sake of it? If it means their children are safer and never truly 'out of sight', then reciprocating with a little more marketing data is something many parents may not begrudge.

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