The technology allows retailers to track items electronically through the supply chain, allowing them to ensure shelves are full and that warehouses carry the correct level of stock. Gartner believes the technology is ready to move beyond retail applications.
Speaking ahead of its conference in Barcelona this week, Roger Fulton, vice president of research at Gartner, predicted that an explosion in wireless devices, including RFID, would ensure that it becomes widely used outside the retail industry over the next few years.
"We will see wireless devices in just about everything," said Fulton. "You will get very small chips like smart 'dust' which contain RFID-type information."
For example, he said, electricity suppliers could deploy electricity meters with an embedded wireless connection, allowing the meter to be read remotely.
"The challenge for companies is exploiting this information without breaking privacy laws," said Fulton."
He added that wireless networks could also pose security headaches for companies unless they had clear guidelines on which staff can access the new breed of flexible networks.