It appears that the transition to Gen 2 RFID technology may happen faster than originally predicted. That message was emphasized 24/7 at the EPCglobal Conference in Atlanta last month. At the event, EPCglobal revealed that seven hardware suppliers had earned EPCglobal certification, assuring that their products comply with its technical standards.
Those companies are Alien Technology, Applied Wireless Devices, Impinj Inc., Intermec Technologies, MaxID Group, Symbol Technologies and ThingMagic. All received certification for RFID readers, but Impinj also received certification for its Monza chip.
"We've certified the first vendors who have produced EPC-compliant hardware," says Dick Cantwell, vice president of global value chain, EPC & retail availability at Gillette and chairman of the EPCglobal board of governors. "This represents a milestone in the history of this effort. EPC is a game-changing strategy for supply chain management. It's remarkable to see how far all of us have come in such a short time."
Several big companies took advantage of the conference to make announcements regarding RFID initiatives. Boeing, which joined EPCglobal last month, said it had received permission from the FAA to tag airplane parts. The giant aircraft maker expects the first airplanes with tagged parts—possibly with as many as 5,000 tags—will roll off the assembly line and onto airport runways within two years. AT&T also announced an initiative to get into RFID.
As for the transition from Gen 1 to Gen 2, by early next year, hundreds of millions of Generation 2 RFID chips are expected to flood the market, a development that should speed the transition within the supply chain. Impinj, for example, has gone on record saying that it will ship 50 million Gen 2 tags by the close of 2005. Impinj is the first company to make a solid volume prediction, but larger silicon producers like Texas Instruments and Philips have also announced that they're ramping up production.