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HP Announces Tiny Wireless Memory Chip 137

Posted by Hemos
from the very-small-rocks dept.
Hewlett-Packard researchers have developed a memory chip with wireless networking capabilities that is roughly the same size as a grain of rice, the company said Monday. Prototypes of the Memory Spot chip developed by HP Labs contain 256 kilobits to 4 megabits of memory and can transfer data wirelessly at speeds up to 10Mbps. There are eight bits in a byte. This amount of storage allows the chips to hold a short video clip, digital pictures or "dozens of pages" of text, HP said, adding that the chips do not require a battery. Memory Spot chips get their power using a technique called inductive coupling, which allows power to be transferred from one component to another through a shared electromagnetic field. In the case of Memory Spot, this power is supplied by the device that is used to read and write data on the chip. Data stored on Memory Spot chips could be accessed using a variety of devices, such as specially equipped cell phones or PDAs, making them suitable for a range of applications, such as adhesive attachments applied to a paper document or printed photograph, HP said.
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HP Announces Tiny Wireless Memory Chip

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  • The Memory Spot is similar to radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which are designed to store information that can be read wirelessly. However, there are several important differences. One such difference is range. Information on RFID chips can be read over relatively large distances, while HP said Memory Spot readers must be "positioned closely" to access the data stored on the chip.
    Sounds like they should be focusing on something that is an improvement...
    • by rbarreira (836272) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:32AM (#15731228) Homepage
      It is an improvement (for certain applications). Do you want people accessing your private data from far away?
      • by jdray (645332)
        Case in point: I wanted to build a cat door that would read the chip embedded in my cat's skin before opening to let him in. The range on reading that thing is a matter of a centimeter or so, so I'd have to teach him to rub a reader in just the right way to get the door open, which seemed like more of a PITA than it was worth. His feline nature makes him virtually untrainable. He doesn't wear a collar, so the larger antenna versions that look like a name tag were out. This thing might help matters. Of
        • Why not put it in his foot/lower leg and put the reader under the mat? If you made the reading antenna mat-sized he'd be sure to stand on it to get in.

          Then again, maybe you thought of that and I'm missing something obvious.
          • Why not put it in his foot/lower leg and put the reader under the mat? If you made the reading antenna mat-sized he'd be sure to stand on it to get in. Then again, maybe you thought of that and I'm missing something obvious.
            You don't get to choose where the vet puts the RFID tag. They always put them in the same place so animal shelter employees can actually find them if the pet is lost.
          • The chip is already in him, between his shoulder blades. It's the standard PetID chip that's implanted in thousands of cats and dogs. I suppose I could get another one put in ($30), but after watching the vet use a reader to get the info, it just doesn't seem practical to use this particular type of chip. She had to rub the reader back and forth a couple times to read the chip, and it's not hard to find.
        • His feline nature makes him virtually untrainable.

          ??? Felines are as trainable as any other domesticated animal. They may be stubborn but they're not stupid. Just because you can't get the cat to do what you want it to do when you want it to do it doesn't mean the cat won't figure out how to get what it wants. I'd wager you'd need to show your cat the location of the reader at most once.

          Think of it this way: I'm guessing your desire for a cat door developed from having to manually open the door to

          • I wouldn't normally feed trolls, but this thread is somewhat allegorical to system design problems, so I'll respond to what you've said.

            The cat has a door of his own, a simple flap that he pushes open when he wants in or out. The problem with this very utilitarian, simple to implement solution is that it's not very discriminating. Another cat in the neighborhood, an un-neutered tom, figured out that he could come and go through the same door and get the same food as our cat. Along the way, he decided tha
            • A system such as the one you need already exists, but it requires the cat to wear a collar with an integrated chip. A friend of my parents has one for her cat and it works like charm. Your cat just needs to get used to the collar (which is thin and lightweight anyway).
            • I wouldn't normally feed trolls, but this thread is somewhat allegorical to system design problems, so I'll respond to what you've said.

              If I really wanted to be a troll, I could say access control should be based on something your cat knows, something your cat is, and something your cat has.

              Teaching frisky the special meow won't be easy. And getting him to stand still for the eye scan could be a challenge. But real trouble starts when you realize your cat has no belt loops or shirt pocket on which to

    • For lots of applications, it is a perceived improvement, it gives a sense of privacy.
    • All you need to increase the range is to come up with some sort of pringles can for your memory reader.
  • by GoRK (10018) <johnl@NosPAm.blurbco.com> on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:30AM (#15731221) Homepage Journal
    There are 8 bits in a byte.


    Thanks for the refresher there HP.
    • Thanks for the refresher there HP.
      Damn...you beat me to it! For a minute there I felt like I was back in elementary school computer class on an Apple ][.
    • They need to remind everyone because people will think there are 10 (thank you hard drive manufacturers).
      • They need to remind everyone because people will think there are 10 (thank you hard drive manufacturers).

        It's not that people think there's 10 bits in one byte, it's that they think there's 1000 bytes in one KB.

        And you know what? They're right. It's the programmers who fucked up when they started using standard ISO suffixes and modified what they meant. One kilometer is not 1024 meters, it's 1000. The hard drive manufacturers are right, the programmers are wrong.

        It may not seem like a big deal to americans

      • I'll accept the Troll score but Jesus Christ some people just can't get a joke.

    • And remember kids, HP stands for Hewlett Packard!
    • Unless you're on a mainframe, in which case there may be anywhere from 7 to 10 bits in a byte. Maybe HP is intending this memory for people who still buy mainframes?
    • That's an octet, boy! OCTET!

      Kids these days...
      • Sure, because in my day we had to put five septets in a word, and waste one bit. Ahhh, those were the good old days. 36 bit computers. Who wouldda thunk that they'd be supplanted by 32 bit computers? Those computers went up to 36.

    • My Sega Genesis pwns your 8 bit wireless thingamabobber with its 16 bits of blast processing.
    • by kahei (466208) on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:45AM (#15731768) Homepage

      Not all bytes have 8 bits. A lot of older mainframes have 7 -- that's why octal was popular once, and why UTF-7 is still widely used. A few had 9, although that wasn't widespread. Some specialized computing devices have anywhere from 5 to 10. So pointing out that it's 8, in the context of a whole new specialized chip, isn't redundant.

    • This reminds me of those word problems in grade-school math, where they'd put some unrelated sentence in there to throw you off. Something like, "Roy has five apples. Roy gives three apples to Dean. Dean likes movies about gladiators. How many apples does Roy have left?"
      • This reminds me of those word problems in grade-school math, where they'd put some unrelated sentence in there to throw you off. Something like, "Roy has five apples. Roy gives three apples to Dean. Dean likes movies about gladiators. How many apples does Roy have left?"

        You ever seen a grown man naked?

    • Off topic (maybe) but I guess some people need the refresher. Just the other day, I heard a radio add for cable internet offering 5 megabyte/second speed. If I lived in their market, I'd hold them to it.
    • I did do some programming one time for Coca Cola's MDP (Multidrop protocol) used in their vending machines to interface the vending electronics with the money acceptors, etc. It had the largest bytes I have seen at 11 bits.
    • laugh all you want, but some systems have 7 bit bytes and there are other archs that have a 9 bit byte.
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:31AM (#15731225) Homepage

    Seeing as how Memory Spot readers must be "positioned closely" to access the data stored on the chip, wouldn't these make a better choice for passports? I think this would alleviate a lot of fears.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • The communication component is the same basic idea as RFID, probably just lower power.
    • Seeing as how Memory Spot readers must be "positioned closely" to access the data stored on the chip, wouldn't these make a better choice for passports? I think this would alleviate a lot of fears.

      The chips in the new passports are ISO 14443 smart card chips, not standard RFIDs, and they do use the same sort of RF communications technology as these Memory Spot readers, and do have a similarly short range. With highly directional antennas, it's possible to read contactless smart cards from distances of u

  • RFID? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by someone300 (891284) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:32AM (#15731230)
    I thought this was exactly what the passive RFID chips do, except that RFID chips tend not to have this large a memory (though is there a technical reason why that's the case?)
    • Yup, sounds like RFID to me. Maybe they are putting more memory in them, but other than that... The initial technical reason for small memory would seem to be size and lack of need for larger memory. They may just be trying to target some new markets, other than the product tracking and badge markets that RFID is popular in.

      "Let's call it something else so we can surpise people with our innovation!"
    • by ansak (80421) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:46AM (#15731327) Homepage Journal
      From what I can tell, the comparison table here would go something like this:

      RFID features longer range and a small uniform, pre-encoded response. (e.g. ID Badge at work) HP's new chip features shorter range and a larger response, selectable from a large pool of responses, and probably the pool of responses is changeable even after deployment.

      As another poster said, the short ranges at which this thing would work will alleviate a lot of people's privacy concerns. Still I gotta say that tagging people is still tagging people.

      mooooo...(NOT!)...ank
      ...so afraid of disorder, we turn it into a God... (Bruce Cockburn, Gospel of Bondage)

      • RFID features longer range and a small uniform, pre-encoded response. (e.g. ID Badge at work) HP's new chip features shorter range and a larger response, selectable from a large pool of responses, and probably the pool of responses is changeable even after deployment.

        Not at all. Passive RFID chips can have computational capabilities. A good example is Speedpass, which uses a challenge-response crypto system. It's bad encryption that was easily duplicated by some grad students at Hopkins, but it is done.

        I

  • To implant information in a person and access it remotely. This is just bringing us closer to governments requiring chip implants.
  • OK, but... (Score:2, Funny)

    by TechDogg (802999)
    ... does anybody know how much money Uncle Ben's is getting on royalties from HP?
    Hewlett-Packard researchers have developed a memory chip with wireless networking capabilities that is roughly the same size as a grain of rice, the company said Monday.
  • At first is sounded like this could compete with Zigbee http://www.zigbee.org/en/index.asp [zigbee.org] or Z-Wave http://www.z-wavealliance.org/content/modules/Star t/ [z-wavealliance.org] technologies. Then again, what is this good for? The battery is...wait, no battery. Power comes from the device that reads/writes this grain-of-rice sized wireless/memory device...
  • ...before DHS requires all Americans (and visitors, for that matter) to have one implanted in their hands or elsewhere in their bodies?
    • by MrSquirrel (976630) on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:18AM (#15731559)
      Didn't you see the article summary? It's not coincidence that the chip is "the size of a grain of rice". You know that last batch of chicken fried rice you had? Yes, it has already begun... my theory is that the chip logs information on your stomach contents, then when it gets flushed back to the sewage treatment plant it updates your data -- the government increased the levels of fat and other unhealthy materials in the most eaten foods, that's what Americans are growing fatter and fatter every year. Their plan? To make Americans so fat, they cannot resist when the government comes in with force. Thankfully I only eat paint chips and mountain dew, so I'm unaffected. Ssshhh, I hear the black helicopters coming, I must make my escape.
  • iPod Flea (Score:5, Funny)

    by the phantom (107624) * on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:46AM (#15731329) Homepage
    Steve Jobs: Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce the smallest iPod ever, the iPod Flea [google.com].
  • Commercial Use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kthejoker (931838) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:47AM (#15731330)
    I still don't understand why RF readers and things of this sort aren't included on every cell phone, along with an easy, common standard to interface with.

    Pointing your cell phone at a product for price comparisons and technical specs, or getting a small video on an item in a museum, or collecting e-mail addresses on College Night, or brochures at a convention, or any other sort of "Additional Info" normally not available at the point of contact, seems to me to be an extremely sustainable business model at a minimum of cost and input.

    RFID might not be a commercial utopia, but it's a good start in a direction we could've been taking 10 years ago.
    • I've got an idea, why don't we build millions of these little devices for looking at those strange black and white stripey things on products?

      We can call it the cuecat, everyone will want one.

      Failing that, for a modern day version, use the camera on your phone to scan the barcode and do a weblookup.
      The technology is already there, its just putting the pieces together into a coherant database.
      • That's my point, the tech is already there, but nobody has managed to put it altogether into a nice, naet, and most importantly, ubiquitous package.

        Cuecat isn't the answer, because the barcode can't store any significant amount of data, only a reference to look up data. The chips from the article (and many RFID chips) can contain the entire PDF brochure of that lawnmower you're looking at, or a trailer for a movie you're considering buying, or any other sort of informational material.

        And seriously, scanning

        • the barcode can't store any significant amount of data

          Depending on the barcode used, lots more data than you realize can be stored in a bar code.

          The chips from the article (and many RFID chips) can contain the entire PDF brochure of that lawnmower you're looking at

          There are many technical problems you are glossing over like transmission rate, storage limitations/configurations and reading a PDF on a mobile phone screen.(?)

          What about the organizational problem of getting your phone service provider to make t
          • What about the organizational problem of getting your phone service provider to make this work? Lots of really useful technology dies on the vine for this reason.


            Your last sentence is my exact complaint. This is an organizational problem, not a technological one, and from a free market perspective, that's just asinine.
  • by Alamose (988960)

    Here is more [forbes.com] info on this topic from forbes. I think they did a better job covering the story. Plus they have a picture.

  • It's difficult to see what these chips can do that smartcards, mini flash chips, and so on can't do... I think the main drivers are going to be cost and size and accessibility to ordinary developers.

    But it could be fun to build memory into ordinary objects. You would not need any electrical contacts. All you need is a universal reader that can presumably be cheaply added to PDA, notebooks, etc. On top of that it'd be easy to write software that reads and writes these to do interesting things:

    - s
    • This could be a spammers dream as well. Suppose that with a small tweak on a PDA or other such wireless-prone device, the range is extended and the chips are placed in high traffic areas? (Places in Malls, cities block, etc) Would these chips be capable of transmitting their 15 second video clip in a few seconds? Hell what if it's just a three or four second flash-style ad which runs continually until the user stops it? Are these sorts of things possible with the mini-chip?

      On the flipside of that paran
  • Never felt my sig more in place than in this topic.
    Seriously, somebody NEEDS to put a human interface into the transponders :D
  • Great.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:06AM (#15731462) Homepage Journal
    This amount of storage allows the chips to hold a short video clip, digital pictures....
    So now the US government can include a short video or pictures of your last full cavity search on your RFID passport.....
    • Since so many have asked, I thought I should point out the obvious:

      So far, RFID resonds with a number, then you then crossreference with some sort of database to see what that ID represents. This apreach has obious advantages, but was also dictated by the limited amount of data transmition capabilities of current RFID chips, without sacrificing distance.

      This device described by HP would have the data on the RFID ship itself. This has the advantage that the reading device does not need to be connected to a r
      • it's a joke....

        Actually, the fridge knowing when the milk expires (But it may still be good if it was treated
        correctly) or the TV dinner setting the microwave (once, huh..) or the clothes telling the washer
        and dryer what to do (Hey washer inhibit the bleach please!)

        could be cool.
  • "There are eight bits in a byte." Really?? When I started programming, you could select the byte size. Now we're forced into 8 bit bytes. What a horrible loss of freedom. I blame Canada. And terrorists. And global warming.
  • Here's dreaming (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Yurka (468420)
    Man, I'd sure love me the complete PDF of a book that I just bought embedded into the back cover.
  • It's only a matter of time that the government will want to implant these into humans to thwart terrorism. It will start small: just tag ex-cons, then sexual deviants, and then the carnies. Next, you are unpatriotic not to have one install in every member of your family.

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
    because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
    because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists
  • One Step Closer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cloudkiller (877302)
    Another step towards the day when I can upgrade my computer by simply pouring a bag of crap through a hole in the top of my case. ...Hey, I sould patent that! [totallyabsurd.com] (Link barely has anything to do with the comment, it just came up in a quick google for toilet patent [google.com].)
  • Perfect! (Score:3, Funny)

    by tashanna (409911) on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:33AM (#15731663)
    All those stamps in my passport were getting annoying. Maybe they can put one of these in my passport, maybe when they get those RFID things [slashdot.org] working, so that I can just download where I've traveled. It'd be handy and I can't see anything that could [slashdot.org] go wrong [slashdot.org].

    - Tash
    Vrooommm... [tashcorp.net]

  • by Vandilizer (201798)
    "roughly the same size as a grain of rice"

    Would be interesting if you could raid these thing, need more storage just dump a handful in to the pot next to you computer.

    Would be hell to try to find one that had gone faulty but I expect you could just turn it off.

    My only concern would be the non-technical collage room mate who drunk and looking for food at 2 am try to cook you rice and then eat it. Brings a whole new side to data recovery.
  • THIS IS RFID. There is no difference. RFID can have small or larage data sizes, small or large coils (which determine how much power is needed to read/write it), and read-only or read/write ability. This is RFID.

    All the concerns people have with RFID technology apply here.
  • good to see somebody besides microsoft making some progress, it would be kooler to see them make money too.
  • Yeah, as subject says, instead of printing a ultra high resolution picture one could store 100+Mpix image into "paper embedded chip memory" and print it with current technology. What would be the point to use high dpi printing when its possible to bypass it with this invention. Then just read it with your RFID scanner and start looking for the androids that have escaped..

  • when they start mass producing these in China next to the rice paddies
  • Probably gonna get creamed for this suggestion, but:

    store all your passwords on it - make them all 128 bits or better randomly generated, then embed the chip in a fingertip. Include handshake verification of authenticity and a pin for added security and that should greatly reduce identity theft

    until someone starts harvesting fingers...

    • The chip could then be used as a regular key too - for automobiles, your house, office etc...
    • Already happened [bbc.co.uk]. Please, my passwords are not so important as my physiological and physical health. Just keep those damn things out of my body, I can just passwords that are important, and any security system can be broken anyway. Remember, security is all about winning time against 'attacks' from the outside. So what do you want, a missing limb and eventually have your identity 'stolen', or having your identity stolen some time earlier, but you keeping your limb.
  • 1 bit is a very short video :o

    They should have used the LOC metric

    NEW HP CHIP = 4 * 1024 * 1024 bits

    1 LOC = 10 * 1024 * 1024 * 1024 * 1024 * 8

    therefore the new chip will hold 1 / (10 * 1024 * 1024 * 2) LOC

    or

    4.7683715e-8 Libraries of Congress

  • Now the pointyhaired ones are able to print out emails and attach the attachments to it via sticky tape. Horrors!
  • NO! I know the ISPs and network hardware people have already redefined things to be in bits, not bytes, but you do NOT get to pull the same thing for storage! It's bad enough when a gigabyte is a billion bytes, instead of 1073741824 bytes, as every piece of software on the planet defines it.

    BAD, BAD HP. NO COOKIE.
  • No kidding? Really?
  • When are we going to see a system where our mobile phone or a chip in our thumb or our memory sticks themselves simply detect when they are in range of the PC and just plain work as a normal USB thumb drive?

    Sure the speed might be slower but damn that could be quite handy.

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