I'll 'fess up -- I once sold some blood of mine in college in exchange for beer money. (The $15 payment could buy a lot of cheap beer back then.) Blood was big business then, and it still is today.
That's why I think investors should take note of a report from The Malaysian Star, announcing that Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) and Siemens (NYSE: SI ) have teamed up with three hospitals in Malaysia to test an RFID tracking system for blood banks.
Now, if there ever was a commodity that needs good tracking, it's blood. One of the reasons I never went back to the blood bank, frankly, was because I was scared of the regular clients, for whom giving blood seemed to be the primary source of disposable income. I couldn't help wondering about the quality of their blood, and whether they were religiously adhering to the required time policies for giving blood. I shivered to think that in an emergency, I might need to rely on blood taken from some of these strangers.
I'm sure that many of these concerns still exist today, and radio frequency identification can ease some of these concerns by better tracking donations and transactions. RFID technology could also reduce waiting time, errors, and blood-type mismatches by strengthening quality control and logistics systems.
All of this is significant, because although only three hospitals in Malaysia are using the technology today, Intel officials have indicated that they are targeting the rest of the country's 300 hospitals. Of course, there's no reason to believe that Intel and Siemens won't also begin targeting thousands of hospitals all over the world with this technology.
If the companies are successful, investors might be able to rely on the appreciation of Intel's and Siemens' stocks to fund part of their retirement. Instead of having to pick up a little cash by, say, giving blood.
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Fool contributor Jack Uldrich still needs cash from time to time, but he uses an ATM now. For the record, though, he still drinks cheap beer. He also owns stock in Intel. The Fool has a bloodless disclosure policy; you can tap into it here.