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Electronic Article Surveillance. Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) is the familiar antitheft tag on or in items in shops. It is not RFID because it only detects if something is there or not there (the antitheft tag) but these systems do employ electronic interrogators working at radio frequencies or thereabouts and their adoption is well ahead of RFID. This means that EAS has lessons for item level RFID. These include:
About six billion are now sold yearly. Price had to drop to an average of about 5 cents for this to occur. The same is likely to be true of item level RFID.
It only became widely acceptable to retailers and end users when the tags were hidden out of sight in the item so they did not scare bona fide customers or disfigure products, some of which are intended as presents or for display in the home. Indeed, being out of sight provides the added bonus of keeping the thief guessing.
It became cost effective for the higher volumes when the tag was fitted by the manufacturer of the product or the packaging converter not the retailer.
Retailers have the greatest benefit from EAS and the greatest clout in forcing it to be adopted. Coercion by retailers of their suppliers has created the highest volume use.
Initially, there seems a simple benefit. EAS alarms that someone is taking a product out of the store or library without permission. However, that leads to other benefits. For example, EAS tagging lets valuable items be put on open display rather than locked up. This increases sales and saves staff costs.
However, we must not push the parallels too far because RFID has so many different benefits, including potentially many in the supply chain that it is not just retailers that are pushing it. In many libraries, the RFID tag has subsumed the EAS tag since it does both tasks.
A typical EAS tag in the form of an adhesive label. It consists of a flat coil - usually etched copper - connected to a flat capacitor to create a resonant LC element. RF swept across a range of MHz frequencies detects it. Thus the term Swept RF EAS.
See "RFID Analyst".
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