Post stamps of the future may contain microchips, according to research firm IDTechEx.
High-tech stamps containing radio frequency identification (RFID) chips are likely to replace the barcodes postal services print on letters and packages to sort and process mail, according to a recent report from IDTechEx. Although it may take a decade or so to happen.
"In due course, over one trillion postal items will be tagged yearly, making this the second largest application of RFID in the world after the retail supply chain," the report noted. "That may occur around 2020 but much more will happen just in the next few years."
Postal services and shipping companies are already using RFID to grant access to secure areas, measure mail delivery performance, and track vehicles. The United Parcel Service has invested in four RFID companies, and DHL is taking bids for RFID labels on one billion packages, the report noted.
The group predicts that postal and courier services will spend more than $3 billion on RFID systems annually by 2016, creating one of the largest markets for the technology.
"Clearly the electronic postage stamp is on its way," it said.