Smart labels have been given the green light by a consortium of 180 Japanese firms who have signed up to support a national standard for the tags.

The new chip-based labels enable consumers to check instantly for product history and a mass of other product related information

Now that Japan's first uniform standard has now been established for the tiny chips that record product information and help manage distribution, tests will begin on the chips in July, said the consortium, which includes some of Japan's top companies.

Plans by the Ubiquitous ID Centre, based at Tokyo University, include the replacement of bar codes for product management and adjustment in payment. The Centre hopes to have the so-called IC tags widely fixed to packaging as early as next year.