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Monday, August 29, 2005

Wisconsin Lab Works on Post-Bar Code Tech

Alfonso Gutierrez smiles as boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese tagged with tiny chips zip around a conveyor belt and pass under a reader that instantly displays information about the product.

"It's going fast," said Gutierrez, who heads a new university research lab dedicated to helping businesses deploy the technology that could one day replace the bar code.

Gutierrez was referring to the speed of the conveyor belt — 600 feet per minute, the speed Wal-Mart uses in its warehouses — but he could have been talking about the rapid acceptance of radio frequency identification, a technology that can revolutionize business but also erode privacy.

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