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Tiny wireless chip could link digital, physical worlds


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Wristband with memory spot

Wristband with Memory Spot
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Postcard with Memory Spot

HP Labs researchers have developed a wireless data chip that could revolutionize the way you think about information stored on paper and other physical objects.

The tiny Memory Spot chip – less than half the size of a grain of rice -- makes it possible to attach digital information to any surface, object or document.

Like RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, Memory Spot requires no batteries – it is powered from radio fields emitted by reading devices.

But Memory Spot functions more like a miniature computer than a passive tag, with key differences in data transfer rates, storage and security. The chip can also be erased and rewritten.

The chip has a 10 megabits-per-second data transfer rate -- 10 times faster than Bluetoothâ„¢ wireless technology and comparable to Wi-Fi speeds -- effectively giving users instant retrieval of information in audio, video, photo or document form.

With a storage capacity ranging from 256 kilobits to 4 megabits in working prototypes, it could store a very short video clip, several images or dozens of pages of text. Future versions could have larger capacities.

Potential applications include storing medical records on a hospital patient's wristband; providing audio-visual supplements to postcards and photos; helping fight counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry; adding security to identity cards and passports; and supplying additional information for printed documents. The chip is not yet available for commercial use.

Memory Spot is not yet available for commercial use.

Announced in 2006, Memory Spot has already been twice honored. It was selected for the Scientific American 50, the magazine's annual list of 50 technologies that demonstrate outstanding leadership in science and technology. It also received a 2006 "Best Of What's New" award in general innovation from Popular Science Magazine .

To learn more, read the press release.

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» HP Researchers Create Wireless Data Chip, Linking Physical and Digital Worlds

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Actual Memory Spot chip

Memory Spot chip
(actual size)

Book with Memory Spot

Book with Memory Spot


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