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RFID World Showcases Asset Tracking, Smart Shelves, Next-Gen Tags

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. put radio frequency identification technology on the map after mandating in 2004 that suppliers affix a tiny RFID chip to pallets and cartons of goods bound for select distribution centers, but on opening day at RFID World 2006 it's clear the road ahead is wide open for RFID products and related technologies.

Asset tracking, smart shelves, education tracks and the next generation of RFID tags are some of the products and services executives will see at the event held in Dallas, home to three high-profile RFID supply chain projects --- Albertson's Inc., Target Corp. and Wal-Mart.

In the opening keynote on Tuesday, Julie England, vice president and general manager of RFID systems at Texas Instruments Inc., said RFID does more than keep track inventory in supply chains. RFID speeds transaction times for a variety of industries from airport security to contactless payment.

Following a successful pilot in 2005, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will begin rolling out a nationwide frequent flyer travel program on June 20, 2006, England said. The program aims to move frequent travelers through airport security check lines more quickly with biometric data and background checks.

Travelers are issued cards after pre-registering. "Indianapolis International Airport announced in January it will begin this program, making it the fourth airport to do so," England told a packed room of conference attendees. "Indianapolis is joining Orlando, which is up and running with 16,000 travelers, and two California airports, Sacramento and San Jose."

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