Visual identification technology could revolutionize supply chain management

There has been a great deal of buzz surrounding Google Glass and other visual identification technology (VIT), which could have huge implications for supply chain and logistics management. Changes to technology could make a difference in how warehouses hire employees and what workers do.

Google Glass is a wearable computing device with a visual display that allows users to take photos, record video, send messages and get directions through voice control. While some are skeptical about what this technology could mean for day to day interactions, Supply Chain Digest believes it could change supply chain management

Image scanners are becoming more common in supply chain and logistics operations and can achieve higher read rates of bar codes than traditional laser scanners in high speed conveyor systems, according to the source. These devices are essentially cameras, which means they are similar to VIT used in Google Glass. While lasers can operate in lower light and read at longer distances, imagers are better at picking up poor quality codes.

VIT could have wide range of uses
In addition to scanning bar codes in distribution centers, VIT could impact retail management. With vast improvements to facial recognition, Supply Chain Digest believes it would be possible to link existing store security cameras to smart technology that would send an alert when a shelf was empty. 

The source suggests technology may adapt to the point where distribution center workers could be equipped with smart glasses that are connected to a mobile terminal, allowing them to identify objects just by looking at them. This process would take less time than scanning. If technology standard were to change from laser scanners to imagers, it would change how much work each employee would be able to do. This could lead businesses to be able to more in less time, thereby expanding and potentially requiring new talent.

University of Arkansas has been studying applications of this technology for retail industries by creating scans of actual store environments.

"There are millions of devices in the hands of retailers and consumers across the United States today that can take a picture of an item – an apple or a detergent bottle, for example – send that picture to a server and then let software automatically identify the item," said Justin Patton, managing director of the RFID Center at University of Arkansas. "The process is as simple as scanning a barcode, but it works from all angles and can capture many items at once."

With technology rapidly evolving in ways that could have a large impact on the retail industry, it could be beneficial for firms to seek the services of a supply chain recruiter to keep up with the latest trends.