Funky Shopping in Future Store

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With its decision to join the "METRO Group Future Store Initiative", Siemens Business Services is stepping up its commitment to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. The goal is to develop new technologies and processes for the retail trade. The company is currently testing RFID in a New York hospital, where the patients carry their medical history in a wireless wristband.

New York's Jacobi Medical Center has commissioned Siemens Business Services to run a test project. When patients are admitted to the hospital they are fitted with a wristband with an RFID chip that contains their personal patient number. Hospital staff use PDAs and tablet PCs with RFID readers to view the associated data. That way, doctors and nurses can identify the patients in seconds - and gain online access to a database with the patient's medical history. Of the 2,000 patients treated on average per month, 200 are involved in the pilot project.

Siemens has already implemented more than a dozen RFID projects at customers like Airbus, the Kaufhof department store and the mail order company Otto-Versand. But according to Winfried Holz, head of global IT solutions at Siemens Business Services, this is only the beginning: "Interest in RFID solutions is growing in leaps and bounds, with new inquiries coming in almost every day. We are in very  promising talks with many interested parties, mostly from the automobile and manufacturing industries and the retail trade." That's why Siemens joins the METRO Group Future Store Initiative. "We are contributing the experience we gained in our RFID project with Kaufhof Warenhaus AG," comments Markus Kehrwald, Business Developer at Siemens Business Services. "The big question is: How can RFID make a company more successful economically?" In the Future Store Initiative, the METRO Group is already cooperating with SAP, Intel, IBM and other partners. The program tests new technologies and ideas in practical a plications and develops them further, with the long-term goal of
developing RFID standards for the retail trade.

"Thanks to the collaboration of three Siemens Operating Groups, we have a unique RFID portfolio," continues Kehrwald. "Siemens Business Services works as a process consultant and systems integrator, the Automation and Drives Operating Group is Europe's market leader in industrial identification
systems, and Logistics and Assembly Systems automates warehouse processes and the flow of goods and materials." The METRO Group's RFID Innovation Center in Neuss is demonstrating some of the new solutions from Siemens.

Joining the Future Store Initiative is Siemens' third milestone in the RFID sector within only a few weeks. Two centers for the radio technology have already been opened: the RFID research lab in Munich (in cooperation with Intel) and the Fraunhofer Institute's RFID center in Magdeburg.

"We will continue to invest in the development of RFID solutions, because this technology has a bright future," confirms Holz. Analysts from Forrester Research predict strong growth for the technology. While about 1 billion RFID chips were produced in 2003, this figure is expected to increase to 45 billion by 2009.

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