RFID Garbage

Ideas, Technology November 6th, 2006

So I’ve had an idea. It is slightly evil, but could be very useful. It’s all about waste analysis.

RFID technology is starting to get wider usage in every day life. In some grocery stores it is embedded in the packaging of the products living on the shelves. For them it makes price changes a simple procedure and allows processes like automated checkouts (say bye bye to the checkout chick) to become a reality.

But as far as I know, the RFID tag stays with the packaging, which is where my idea comes in. See once you’ve eaten the contents of the packaging, you’ll be throwing it away. If you had an RFID capable garbage bin, it could collect metrics on the types of food you eat as well as when you eat it (well how often you empty your rubbish anyway). Add a set of scales to the bin and it can measure the weight of the waste a household produces, as well as the product breakdown (pun intended) of the waste.

Then every thursday night the trucks come around and take your trash and your data. The truk then dumps all its rubbish at the tip and dumps the collected data on a phat server. Now you have the waste statistics of the entire city/municipality/shire located on a big fat database in a server room somewhere.

Now enter the data mining guys. Some of them are evil, and some of them are good. For instance, if used for good, the data could help the council to improve waste disposal services. It could also send letters to people who recycle the wrong things, or throw things out which could be recycled. If used for evil, it would allow people (of any disposition) to really get inside your head and know you possibly better than you know yourself…. “amazing, I never knew I had tuna every 2nd friday of the 3rd month of a leap year”. Ahh the powers of datamining!

I’m sure there is a packet of money to be made in this. There would be a lot of information about peoples use of products. If they find a correlation between tuna and mondays, they’ll put tuna ads on Mondays. In fact, there are plenty of self made millionaires who have made their empire on other peoples rubbish. Waste disposal is a big industry – you’d have to silence the privacy advocates, but I’m sure you could do it….
But of course, you are too late. It his has already been done. Just google for rfid garbage bins! Woe betide us and our 1984 like future.

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