Bar codes, version 2.0

A group of academics and business executives is planning to introduce next month a next-generation bar code system, which could someday replace with a microchip the series of black vertical lines found on most merchandise. The so-called EPC Network, which has been under development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for nearly five years, will make its debut in Chicago on Sept. 15, at the EPC Symposium. At that event, MIT researchers, executives from some of the largest global companies, and U.S. government officials intend to discuss their plans for the EPC Network and invite others to join the conversation.

The attendee list for the conference reads like a who's who of the Fortune 500: Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, Heinz, J.C. Penney, Kraft Foods, Nestle, PepsiCo and Sara Lee, among others. An official from the Pentagon is scheduled to speak, along with executives from Gillette, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and United Parcel Service. "I see this (event) as a formal marker that is pretty key," to the development of these next-generation systems, said Pete Abell, analyst at the ePC Group, a research firm tracking the technology. EPC stands for electronic product code, which is the new product numbering scheme that's at the heart of the system.

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News source: C|Net

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