EPCglobal Canada will offer a suite of hardware and software based on radio frequency identification (RFID) tags — tiny chips with antennae embedded in retail items. RFID scanners read the tags to identify, track and store information on the tagged objects. The unique identifier allows users to locate

every individual asset. EPCglobal estimates savings of $5 billion in the U.S. alone over traditional bar code systems. The EPC Network will make its Canadian debut next year, with a national rollout in the next three to four years.

The biggest challenge for Canada is that larger companies are usually subsidiaries of major multinationals, so the focus of research spending is in the U.S., says Art Smith, president and CEO of EPCglobal Canada and president and CEO of the Electronic Commerce Council of Canada. The council has brought together several groups to share knowledge and lessons gleaned from RFID experiences overseas.

But implementations come with a steep price tag, averaging $100,000 (US) in startup costs.

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