There's plenty of evidence building that 2004-2005 will be the year that RFID begins to have a serious impact on industry. Two European supermarket chains, Tesco and Metro, have announced plans to use RFID starting late this year; Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense are going to start using it in 2005; and there are tests or discussions underway regarding RFID and EPC's use in food processing and pharmaceuticals.

RFID Journal offers another data-point: a report that Microsoft is testing "its first RFID supply chain management (SCM) pilot project… to develop and test new RFID-capable software that it plans to bring to market next year." The test is being conducted with KiMs, a Danish snack food producer, and will be what in the industry is called a "pallet and case-level test"– i.e., the RFID chips will be used to track pallets or cases of goods, not individual items. (This also keeps it firmly in the supply chain space– essentially behind the counter– and doesn't raise the kinds of consumer privacy issues that have come up with tests of smart store shelves or item-level tagging.) Microsoft's larger aim is to "market its RFID products to similar midsize companies… middleware developed for the KiMs pilot will be tested and integrated with Microsoft’s Axapta warehouse management system by next year."

Cnet also reports about the trial.