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Gartner: Get Ready, GEN 2 Has Arrived

It appears that the recent developments in GEN 2 product availability have everyone excited, even venerable research firm Gartner.
Apr 11, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

April 11, 2005—It appears that the recent developments in GEN 2 product availability have everyone excited, even venerable research firm Gartner. On the heels of recent announcements from Intermec, METRO Group, Philips, and Impinj that they have either successfully tested or are preparing to release GEN 2 systems, Gartner on Friday published an advisory entitled "Prepare Now for Strategic Investments in Generation 2 RFID." In the one-page brief Gartner identifies the recent developments as an official arrival of the standard, noting that GEN 2 provides "improved performance in all areas" and that the RFID market "is now moving toward true globally unified standards."

The brief lists a handful of important points for those companies with existing first generation RFID deployments that are considering an upgrade to GEN 2. The International Standards Organization (ISO) is acknowledged, as the brief argues that ISO standards should be complied with alongside EPCglobal's GEN 2. With respect to hardware, the cost of fully functional RFID labels is the key metric to keep in mind, not just the cost of chips. Further, RFID readers should have write capabilities as well as read, given the almost assured need for this functionality in the years ahead. Finally, Gartner mentions the all-too-familiar intellectual property issues, saying only that the jury is still out on how they will be resolved.

Three explicit recommendations are offered in the brief. First, for those companies that need dense reader capability (that is, the ability to place 50 or more readers within a one kilometer radius), Gartner advises not buying any of the RFID readers on the market today; they will not be upgradeable, and an entirely new reader would be required to realize such functionality. Second, despite the exciting GEN 2 commercialization progress in the last two weeks, it will not be until the third quarter of this year that the technology is available from a wide selection of vendors. In other words, do not plan to make purchases until Q3 at the earliest. Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, now that GEN 2 is finally here, companies should leverage it to build long-term RFID strategies and therefore select vendors who likewise will be around for the long term. This last recommendation is an apparent allusion to the fact that "Gartner believes that some ... vendors may fail to make the transition to G2 technology."

This is a curious belief given that the entire industry has been gearing up for GEN 2 for over a year. How could any serious vendor not have prepared for the new standard? From the many vendors we have talked to, GEN 2 is top of mind. They recognize it as the watershed milestone in the evolution of RFID which will accelerate adoption and stimulate innovation. Watch for this week to be proof of that, as companies with important GEN 2 developments or releases will use RFID Journal Live! as the platform for their announcements.

Read the brief on Gartner's site
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