[LINK] HP unveils wireless 'memory spot'

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Mon Jul 17 19:48:50 AEST 2006

HP unveils wireless 'memory spot'
Correspondents in San Francisco
JULY 17, 2006 
The Australian
RESEARCHERS at Hewlett-Packard have developed a tiny wireless "memory 
spot" chip that can store up to 100 pages of text.

Developed over four years by HP Labs in Bristol, the chip is about the 
size of the head of a match and could potentially store a patient's 
medical chart on a hospital band, said Howard Taub, associate director 
at HP Labs.

"There's no question that it has long-term potential," said Tim Bajarin, 
president of of California market research firm Creative Strategies. 
"But keep in mind this is a technology announcement. It's difficult to 
predict what applications will be developed and what we would call the 
'killer application' for this."

Consumers could store audio commentary, music or short videos on such a 
chip, affixed to a printed digital photograph. Devices to read and write 
data on the chip would then eventually be embedded in mobile phones, 
handheld computers, personal computers, printers, or small standalone 

"This really bridges the digital and physical worlds," Taub said. "The 
digital data is attached to the physical object it's related to."

HP plans to take the technology to industry standards bodies, Mr Taub 
said. While broad commercial applications are at least two years away, 
HP will license the technology to partners, customers and rivals well 
before that.

"Licensing will almost definitely be part of it," Mr Taub said of HP's 
plans to cash in on its investment in the technology, which was 
developed by the "Memory Spot" team within HP Labs.

While similar in some ways to RFID chips, there are key differences in 
Memory Spot technology in data transfer rates, storage and security.

The chip can transfer data at 10 megabits per second, 10 times faster 
than Bluetooth wireless technology, comparable to Wi-Fi rates and far 
faster than RFID. HP has also managed to store up to 4 Mb in working 
prototypes of the chip, far more than an RFID chip can store.

HP said the chips could be embedded in paper or stuck to surfaces, and 
may be sold eventually as self-adhesive dots.

"At a buck a piece, that could be a really good business," Mr Taub said, 
noting that at production volumes of millions of chips, a dollar per 
chip would be a reasonable cost.

The chip is made up of a capacitor array, modem, loop antenna, a 
targeted microprocessor, memory driver and memory, all fabricated as one 
piece, which helps cut production costs.

It needs no battery or external electronics, getting its power via 
inductive coupling from the read-write device, Mr Taub said. Inductive 
coupling is an energy transfer from one circuit component to another 
through a shared electromagnetic field.

The reader must be touched to the chip or placed within a millimetre for 
data transfer to occur, which could render it safer than typical RFID 
chips, whose range of up to about 10 feet exposes them more to data 
thieves, Mr Taub said.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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