WSJ.com - Technology for Tracking Goods Gets Boost From Microsoft, IBM "A technology that could replace product bar codes is getting a further push, as Microsoft Corp. is expected Monday to unveil plans for new software even as International Business Machines Corp. and Philips Electronics NV announced a partnership to boost sales of related chips.
According to officials from the three companies, both announcements involve radio-frequency identification, or RFID, a technology companies have begun employing to track goods using wireless tags. Large retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Germany's Metro AG, have told their biggest suppliers to attach such tags to boxes and pallets of goods starting around the end of this year.
Special computer-linked antennas wirelessly scan the information stored on the tags for inventory management, typically at the entrances and exits of warehouses and stores. But a number of technical hurdles and data standards remain to be worked out even as the retailers' deadlines loom.
Microsoft expects to announce Monday plans to develop software to handle RFID data for small and medium-size businesses. The software, planned for release in 2005, will let companies use information generated by the RFID systems in their Microsoft supply- and inventory-management software."