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'[OT]: Self-serve checkout lanes'
2003\06\12@230246 by Alex Kilpatrick

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Here in Austin, Walmart and Home Depot have installed self-serve
check-out lanes. Here is how it works:

You scan your item

You now have to put the item in a bag. It complains if you don't.

Repeat until done

Pay (cash, credit)

If you attempt to put an item in the bag without scanning, it complains.

Now, presumably it has a fairly sensitive weight sensor somewhere. I
know it could detect a package of two screws when I used it. But I was
wondering what would prevent you from trying the following:

1) Scan can of tomatoes

2) Drop a CD in bag

3) Scan tomatoes again

4) Drop tomatoes in bag

I don't think it has a database relating SKUs and weight.

Any knowledge or guesses?


Alex


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2003\06\12@231521 by Jai Dhar

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Judging by the Zehrs that I go to here (groceries), they DO relate SKUs and
weight. I have however been able to scan a box of cereal and throw in lets say
a pack of mushrooms without the machine noticing :-) Of course, I did not go
through with it... but most of the time, it does seem to relate the two quite
well. And if not, the two girls looking over the self-serve isles serve some
purpose I'm sure :-)

Quoting Alex Kilpatrick <spam_OUTAlexKTakeThisOuTspamHCITRAINING.COM>:

{Quote hidden}

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2003\06\12@231906 by David VanHorn

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>
>1) Scan can of tomatoes
>
>2) Drop a CD in bag
>
>3) Scan tomatoes again
>
>4) Drop tomatoes in bag
>
>I don't think it has a database relating SKUs and weight.
>
>Any knowledge or guesses?

We have them here at Meijer's.

The PLU system knows the weight as well as price, for every item with a UPC.
There's also a TV camera that does a frame grab when you scan an item.
There's also someone watching. :)

It's not foolproof, but it's good enough. Theoretically, you could put a barcode from item X that weighs 1 lb but costs $1 on item Y that costs $50 and weighs 1 lb, but I think they would notice.

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2003\06\12@232327 by Herbert Graf

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{Quote hidden}

       Probably nothing, the systems I've heard of were all based on the honour
system, about the only "enforcement" is they have video cameras and an
operator might be watching at any time.

       On a related note Walmart is going to start pushing for RFID tags on all
products it sells, that'll mean when checking out you won't even have to
remove the item from the shopping cart! TTYL

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2003\06\12@233525 by David VanHorn
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>
>        On a related note Walmart is going to start pushing for RFID tags on all
>products it sells, that'll mean when checking out you won't even have to
>remove the item from the shopping cart! TTYL

I heard that as well.
It's hard to believe that they have the margin for that, but I guess if they don't have a register or cashier...

Of course there's the little problem that I might bring something in with me that still has a tag on/in it, then they try to sell it to me twice.

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2003\06\12@233748 by Marc Nicholas

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Same with Loblaws...the checkout Nazis roam the self-serve checkouts and
intimidate you!

-marc

On 12/6/03 23:14, "Jai Dhar" <.....jdharKILLspamspam@spam@ENGMAIL.UWATERLOO.CA> wrote:

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2003\06\12@234402 by Marc Nicholas

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On 12/6/03 23:33, "David VanHorn" <.....dvanhornKILLspamspam.....CEDAR.NET> wrote:

>>
>>        On a related note Walmart is going to start pushing for RFID tags on
>> all
>> products it sells, that'll mean when checking out you won't even have to
>> remove the item from the shopping cart! TTYL
>
> I heard that as well.
> It's hard to believe that they have the margin for that, but I guess if they
> don't have a register or cashier...

A couple of cents per item?!

If you happen to be paying electronically, just the demographic value alone
is worth more than the RFID tags are. Let alone costs savings elsewhere.

And Walmart, believe it or not, are VERY I.T. oriented.


-marc

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2003\06\12@234609 by David VanHorn

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>
>A couple of cents per item?!

I didn't know they were that low yet. Interesting.


>And Walmart, believe it or not, are VERY I.T. oriented.

Oh yeah!

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2003\06\12@235848 by Picdude

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On Thursday 12 June 2003 22:02, Alex Kilpatrick scribbled:
> Here in Austin, Walmart and Home Depot have installed self-serve
> check-out lanes. Here is how it works:

Oooohhh ... another Austinite!


{Quote hidden}

It supposedly does.  At least according to one check-out clerk.

What impressed me was that I put a bag of some vegetable on it, and it identified it!  Then I found out that there is a central attendant with a camera monitoring everthing and punching in the codes for you.  The register actually weighs it though.

They have cameras checking everything out, so I'll look for your name on the local news ... Alex K caught trying to fool a walmart checkout machine that a CD was a bag of tomatoes.  :-) :-)

Cheers,
-Neil.

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2003\06\13@004532 by Herbert Graf

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> >        On a related note Walmart is going to start pushing for
> RFID tags on all
> >products it sells, that'll mean when checking out you won't even have to
> >remove the item from the shopping cart! TTYL
>
> I heard that as well.
> It's hard to believe that they have the margin for that, but I
> guess if they don't have a register or cashier...

       Well, Walmart did the same thing with the UPC code in the 70s, the time
savings alone will allow for fewer cashiers. Also inventory becomes much
easier with RFID since the items don't have to be removed from the case.

> Of course there's the little problem that I might bring something
> in with me that still has a tag on/in it, then they try to sell
> it to me twice.

       Chances are there will be a database that would should that your particular
item had already been paid for, at least that's how I'd do it. Another
option is to flip a bit in the tag to signify the item as "sold". TTYL

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2003\06\13@012144 by David VanHorn

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>
>        Chances are there will be a database that would should that your particular
>item had already been paid for, at least that's how I'd do it.

Hmm. That could be problematic. That database would get big real fast.
There's also the problem that I might have bought it at a different store, or a different retailer.

>Another option is to flip a bit in the tag to signify the item as "sold". TTYL

Boy that would be rife for thieves!
Bit flipper boxes on ebay..

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2003\06\13@012757 by Herbert Graf

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> >        Chances are there will be a database that would should
> that your particular
> >item had already been paid for, at least that's how I'd do it.
>
> Hmm. That could be problematic. That database would get big real fast.

       True, but database technology has gotten so good I don't see it as being
much of a problem.

> There's also the problem that I might have bought it at a
> different store, or a different retailer.

       Not a problem, the store will no the item scanned was never available at
that location, therefore it won't charge you.

> >Another option is to flip a bit in the tag to signify the item
> as "sold". TTYL
>
> Boy that would be rife for thieves!
> Bit flipper boxes on ebay..

       Smart card technology has come a long way, I don't think it would be much
of a problem, plus there is always the human "big brother" element.
Remember, people are going to shoplift no matter what. TTYL

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2003\06\13@013413 by David VanHorn

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>
>> There's also the problem that I might have bought it at a
>> different store, or a different retailer.
>
>        Not a problem, the store will no the item scanned was never available at
>that location, therefore it won't charge you.

So you'd have to go beyond the UPC, and add a unique serial number as well.
That would help a lot with fraud on returns..
Shoplifters return things to get money or store credit for something they lifted in a different store.


>        Smart card technology has come a long way, I don't think it would be much of a problem, plus there is always the human "big brother" element.
>Remember, people are going to shoplift no matter what. TTYL

True. The best countermeasures just make them do their thing elsewhere.

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2003\06\13@015526 by Patrik Husfloen

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So what exactly is the range of these RFIDs?
I thought it was a few inches at the most, but the people on slashdot
seems to think it's a mile and a half and they are preparing their
tinfoil hats as we speak :)

/Patrik

Herbert Graf wrote:
<snip>
>
>         On a related note Walmart is going to start pushing for RFID tags on all
> products it sells, that'll mean when checking out you won't even have to
> remove the item from the shopping cart! TTYL

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2003\06\13@015536 by Herbert Graf

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> >        Not a problem, the store will no the item scanned was
> never available at
> >that location, therefore it won't charge you.
>
> So you'd have to go beyond the UPC, and add a unique serial
> number as well.
> That would help a lot with fraud on returns..
> Shoplifters return things to get money or store credit for
> something they lifted in a different store.

       In the form of the tags I've read about every item would have a unique
code, that way inventory becomes much easier. TTYL

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2003\06\13@020602 by Herbert Graf

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I haven't seen range figures, however I did read that a whole box could be
scanned without removing the individual retail packages, so that would
indicate at least a foot or two of range. TTYL

> {Original Message removed}

2003\06\13@025455 by Peter L. Peres

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> Judging by the Zehrs that I go to here (groceries), they DO relate SKUs
> and weight. I have however been able to scan a box of cereal and throw
> in lets say a pack of mushrooms without the machine noticing :-) Of
> course, I did not go through with it... but most of the time, it does
> seem to relate the two quite well. And if not, the two girls looking
> over the self-serve isles serve some purpose I'm sure :-)

And the next step would be a list of products on two columns with
expensive on the left and cheap on the right, sorted such that their
weights are equal ?

There are certain countries where there will never be such a system in
operation. Trust me on this.

Peter

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2003\06\13@031028 by Peter L. Peres

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> Of course there's the little problem that I might bring something in
> with me that still has a tag on/in it, then they try to sell it to me
> twice.

Normally one of the widgets on the checkout zaps the tag. At least that is
the scenario I know of from reading specs of rfid/tag systems.

Peter

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2003\06\13@120543 by Alex Kilpatrick

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>
>         On a related note Walmart is going to start pushing
> for RFID tags on all products it sells, that'll mean when
> checking out you won't even have to remove the item from the
> shopping cart! TTYL
>
That seems like a challenging task.  If you have a shopping cart with
100 items, wouldn't they all transmit at once when they passed through
the scanner?  What is the limit to the number of simultaneous RFID tags
you can read at once?

Alex

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2003\06\13@122249 by David VanHorn

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>
>That seems like a challenging task.  If you have a shopping cart with
>100 items, wouldn't they all transmit at once when they passed through
>the scanner?  What is the limit to the number of simultaneous RFID tags
>you can read at once?

I've seen this demo, a shopping cart full of stuff on a ram pushed back and forth through a gate.  Apparently there's a holdoff so they don't all transmit at once. Probably based on interrogation.

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2003\06\13@122929 by Herbert Graf

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> >         On a related note Walmart is going to start pushing
> > for RFID tags on all products it sells, that'll mean when
> > checking out you won't even have to remove the item from the
> > shopping cart! TTYL
> >
>
> That seems like a challenging task.  If you have a shopping cart with
> 100 items, wouldn't they all transmit at once when they passed through
> the scanner?  What is the limit to the number of simultaneous RFID tags
> you can read at once?

       That's something I was thinking of as well, I'm not sure how they do it.
Perhaps there is some polling going on? Or maybe every device transmits at a
random time? Anybody here know how they manage to do it? TTYL

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2003\06\13@124137 by M. Adam Davis

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Many RFID tags have anti-collision ability, such as the MCR45X from
Microchip.  The algorithm is located in section 6 of this data sheet
http://www.microchip.com/download/lit/pline/rfid/devices/40232g.pdf

And through that algorithm up to 64 devices are assigned a time slot,
and they only transmit in that time slot.  I'm sure that shopping RFID
devices will allow far more time slots, and probably a much quicker
algorithm.

The problem I see is the DSP algorithms needed to overcome all the
effects of metal and other RF changing fields in the basket (cans, foil,
liquids, etc).

RFID isn't going to come for quite some time.

-Adam

Alex Kilpatrick wrote:

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2003\06\13@131040 by Spehro Pefhany

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At 12:28 PM 6/13/2003 -0400, you wrote:

>         That's something I was thinking of as well, I'm not sure how they
> do it.
>Perhaps there is some polling going on? Or maybe every device transmits at a
>random time? Anybody here know how they manage to do it? TTYL

If you've used one-wire devices- it doesn't have to be random if they all
have a serial number.

Best regards,

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2003\06\13@132333 by Herbert Graf

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> Many RFID tags have anti-collision ability, such as the MCR45X from
> Microchip.  The algorithm is located in section 6 of this data sheet
> http://www.microchip.com/download/lit/pline/rfid/devices/40232g.pdf
>
> And through that algorithm up to 64 devices are assigned a time slot,
> and they only transmit in that time slot.  I'm sure that shopping RFID
> devices will allow far more time slots, and probably a much quicker
> algorithm.
>
> The problem I see is the DSP algorithms needed to overcome all the
> effects of metal and other RF changing fields in the basket (cans, foil,
> liquids, etc).

       Actually because of the frequency used (very low) these sorts of effects
are much less of a problem then with higher frequencies.

> RFID isn't going to come for quite some time.

       Walmart disagrees, I don't remember the timeline but they do expect to have
RFID relatively soon, and when the biggest retailer in NA (and the world?)
does something, others will follow. Personally I dislike Walmart, but if
they succeed in bringing RFID to the masses I'll be happy. TTYL

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2003\06\13@132536 by Herbert Graf

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> >         That's something I was thinking of as well, I'm not
> sure how they
> > do it.
> >Perhaps there is some polling going on? Or maybe every device
> transmits at a
> >random time? Anybody here know how they manage to do it? TTYL
>
> If you've used one-wire devices- it doesn't have to be random if they all
> have a serial number.

       I haven't used one wire devices, I don't see how having serial numbers
help. Remember, the scanner doesn't KNOW what devices are out there, and the
devices don't know what devices are out there, I can't see the scanner
querying every single number, that would simply take too long. There has to
be some "discovery" mode, and I don't really see a way other then a random
"hello", but then I'm not very experienced in this sort of thing, which is
why I'm asking. TTYL

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2003\06\13@140511 by Mike Harrison

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On Fri, 13 Jun 2003 13:24:50 -0400, you wrote:

>> >         That's something I was thinking of as well, I'm not
>> sure how they
>> > do it.
>> >Perhaps there is some polling going on? Or maybe every device
>> transmits at a
>> >random time? Anybody here know how they manage to do it? TTYL
>>
>> If you've used one-wire devices- it doesn't have to be random if they all
>> have a serial number.
>
>        I haven't used one wire devices, I don't see how having serial numbers
>help. Remember, the scanner doesn't KNOW what devices are out there, and the
>devices don't know what devices are out there, I can't see the scanner
>querying every single number, that would simply take too long. There has to
>be some "discovery" mode, and I don't really see a way other then a random
>"hello", but then I'm not very experienced in this sort of thing, which is
>why I'm asking. TTYL

ISTR The way the 1-wire things do it is by doing a progressive bit-by-bit polling scheme on th e
address,  i.e. : "are there any devices with serial number bit 0 set ?" (none, one, or many devices
may respond), and then narrowing down the search until each device is found - the only requirement
is that it can reliably distinguish between no devices and (1 or more) devices - with the 1-wire
open drain system this is easy, and I suspect something similar is possible with RFID.

Another way to look at it is like a binary search : imagine the 'space' of all possible numbers. You initially look for anything in the first half of that space - if there are no devices, discard
it, if there are devices, split it in two and check each half again, and so on, discarding all the
spaces that contain no devices. As the vast majority of spaces will contain no devices once you get a few steps down the "tree", the
search will discard many spaces early on, reducing the number to be searched for further devices to
a manageable number.
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2003\06\13@153926 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 01:24 PM 6/13/2003 -0400, you wrote:
> > >         That's something I was thinking of as well, I'm not
> > sure how they
> > > do it.
> > >Perhaps there is some polling going on? Or maybe every device
> > transmits at a
> > >random time? Anybody here know how they manage to do it? TTYL
> >
> > If you've used one-wire devices- it doesn't have to be random if they all
> > have a serial number.
>
>         I haven't used one wire devices, I don't see how having serial
> numbers
>help. Remember, the scanner doesn't KNOW what devices are out there, and the
>devices don't know what devices are out there, I can't see the scanner
>querying every single number, that would simply take too long. There has to
>be some "discovery" mode, and I don't really see a way other then a random
>"hello", but then I'm not very experienced in this sort of thing, which is
>why I'm asking. TTYL

I don't know how (or if they yet) do it on the tag chips, but the one-wire
devices use a 64 bit guaranteed unique serial number lasered into each die.
The output of multiple devices is wired-or as you could imagine multiple
responses from tag chips received at once. By a process of elimination,
the devices on the bus are identified. To sequentially go through each
code in RF would take something like 50 million years (imagine the line
ups!).

The procedure is described here:
http://www.ibutton.com/ibuttons/standard.pdf from PDF page 58.

I've coded this in assembly on an AT89C51 and it's pretty straightforward
and fast. PIC would be similar, of course.

Best regards,

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2003\06\13@171256 by Herbert Graf

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{Quote hidden}

       Interesting, however, considering the low bandwidth involved with RFID I
don't see this technique being feasible. There will be possibly trillions of
"serial numbers" (maybe even more), doing this type of search will probably
still take to long, especially when you have to add error detection,
collision resolution and all the other protocol "features" that are needed.
TTYL

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2003\06\13@172911 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 05:12 PM 6/13/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>         Interesting, however, considering the low bandwidth involved with
> RFID I
>don't see this technique being feasible. There will be possibly trillions of
>"serial numbers" (maybe even more), doing this type of search will probably
>still take to long, especially when you have to add error detection,
>collision resolution and all the other protocol "features" that are needed.
>TTYL

It's like a binary search, so O(n) per identification, not O (2^n)

The difference for 50 items and 64 bits is  18446744073709551616/3200,
give or take.

That's a big difference. ;-)  Identifying the whole cart should not take
more than a fraction of a second at a few thousand bps compared to many
millions of years doing it sequentially.,

Algorithms can be really important by times.

Best regards,

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2003\06\14@015616 by Jesse Lackey

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Brooklyn, NY being one of those countries.  They say you can get
anything in nyc, but self-serve checkouts and gun stores - nope.
:)
J


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2003\06\16@060755 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>> >Another option is to flip a bit in the tag to signify the item
>> as "sold". TTYL
>>
>> Boy that would be rife for thieves!
>> Bit flipper boxes on ebay..
>
>        Smart card technology has come a long way, I don't think it would
be much
>of a problem, plus there is always the human "big brother" element.
>Remember, people are going to shoplift no matter what. TTYL

And in this case I would think one of those foil packets used for protecting
film in airport X-rays will become a hot item to put RFID tagged items into
to get them out of the store. How many such bagged items could you get
through a reader with other items that you do pay for ??

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2003\06\16@125605 by Herbert Graf

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> >        Smart card technology has come a long way, I don't think it would
> be much
> >of a problem, plus there is always the human "big brother" element.
> >Remember, people are going to shoplift no matter what. TTYL
>
> And in this case I would think one of those foil packets used for
> protecting
> film in airport X-rays will become a hot item to put RFID tagged
> items into
> to get them out of the store. How many such bagged items could you get
> through a reader with other items that you do pay for ??

       Because of the low frequencies involved foil won't be as effective. TTYL

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