Companies should start preparing now for the next-generation RFID technology which will soon hit the shelves, according to analyst Gartner.
Earlier this month Intermec, Metro Group and Royal Philips Electronics said they had developed an RFID chip that complies with EPCglobal's UHF Electronic Product Code Class 1 Generation 2 (G2) standard.
Impinj has also unveiled an RFID reader and tag system that conforms to the next generation standard, and Gartner said these hardware announcements will soon be followed by many more.
In a research note Gartner analyst Jeff Woods said: "The market is now moving toward true globally unified standards for UHF RFID. The capabilities of G2 technology are largely comparable to those of the current generation of products, but they offer incrementally improved performance in all areas."
As well as better performance, G2-compliant systems will also feature encryption, password protection and authentication in order to protect the data stored on the RFID tags and their databases.
And because it is a worldwide standard, G2 will allow companies to deploy RFID across multi-national supply chains, improving efficiency.
Companies should begin to make the transition from tactical to strategic equipment purchases, the analyst said.
But it warned: "The substantial technical differences from G1 technology will radically change the positions of the vendors in this market, and Gartner believes that some of these vendors may fail to make the transition to G2 technology."
Companies should start planning for the general availability of G2 equipment in the third quarter of this year, and begin to evaluate hardware vendors "strategically" rather than seeking short-term or interim "fixes", Gartner said.