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HP Provides Alternate Technology to RFID 105

NerdForceMaster writes "HP has unveiled a new alternative to standard RFID technology, a chip the size of a tomato seed that has 500KB of memory and can communicate at 10mbps. Lets hope this one is commercially availible soon." We beg forgiveness; dupe etc etc.
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HP Provides Alternate Technology to RFID

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  • Tomato seed? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:24AM (#15742246)
    Okay. Exactly how big is a tomato seed again?

    What ever happened to standard units of measure? This is a tech crowd. How about a size in millimeters?

    I tried googling "1 tomato seed in millimeters", but that didn't give me a useful number...
    • Just bite into a tomato. Those little yellowish-wite bits in there are the seeds. Never eaten a tomato?
    • by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:32AM (#15742275) Homepage
      A tomato seed is, as astute readers of the last embodiment of this story will remember, almost exactly the same size as a grain of rice.

      Presumably HP is now using the "use food as units of measurement and the hungry masses will lap up your products" theory of mass marketing.

      Coming soon:

        - a laptop the size of a pizza calzone!
        - a new PDA the size of a 8-oz packet of California sun-dried raisins!
        - ink cartridges the size of a small tin of caviar (and more expensive!)
        - a secure USB drive the size of a sun-dried tomato! ...
      • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:52AM (#15742345)
        - a mail server the size of a can of SPAM
        • now that would be funny.. i might have to do that.. get one of the gum sticks computers and stick it in a spam can make sure i get the one that has two POE ports.. have the network cable go in one side and then the second port come out.. and make it my spam filter..
      • by Yst ( 936212 )
        You'd think the marketing folks could sell the work of these fine engineers using proper engineering terms.

        If the unit is 0.1 attoparsecs wide, they need to say it's 0.1 attoparsecs [wikipedia.org].

        If it's half a nanoacre, they need to say it's half a nanoacre [wikipedia.org].
        • I think this gem from your link is pretty nerdy even for Slashdot:

          Interestingly, 1 attoparsec/microfortnight is nearly 1 inch/second...
          • Another way to get nerdy on this topic is to note that "rice grain" and "tomato seed" are both dubious because of the wide variation in the sizes of such seeds.

            Much better would be the "barley seed", which was used as a unit of measurement in medieval Europe. The reason was that over a wide range of growing conditions, barley produced seeds that were very close to the same size. In fact, one of the historic definitions of "inch" was eight barley seeds. For most purposes back then, this was good enough, a
      • At least they don't describe it's memory capacity as "as much as a can of tuna" or it's speed as "just as fast as a jackrabbit being chased by a hungry mountain lion". It's nice to know the people that write these press releases have a high opinion of us.
    • If you feel like a lark, give RTFA a try. There's actually a picture there.
    • Millimeters? That's waaay too technical.
      What about five billionths of Libraries of Congress?
    • Silly question. Because a very similar article [slashdot.org] was posted two days ago, we can safely assume that a tomato seed is about the size of a grain of rice.

      Some will say dupes are bad, but that one is definitely enlightening, bringing new information to the table. I now know that the size of a tomato seed is roughly the size of a grain of rice.
    • Maybe this means that they intend people to eat them so they can be more readily tracked. I will never trust another tomato again. Bob, you have lost my faith!
    • If it helps you, 500 KB per tomato seed is exactly equal to 1E-5 library of Congress per coconut.
    • by Quinn ( 4474 )

      $ units --verbose
      1990 units, 71 prefixes, 32 nonlinear units

      You have: 1 tomato seed
      You want: mm
                      1 tomato seed = 2.5 mm
                      1 tomato seed = (1 / 0.4) mm

    • Re:Tomato seed? (Score:2, Informative)

      by pierreact ( 983133 )
      The chip is a 4 square millimeter.
    • 1 tomato seed in exactly 0.00000001 size of texases
    • I guess in NASA standard units [bbc.co.uk], one Tomato Seed = 2 nano-WashingMachines
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:25AM (#15742249) Homepage Journal
    a chip the size of a tomato seed that has 500KB of memory and can communicate at 10mbps
    Finally, a brain for my girlfriend!
  • by adam ( 1231 ) * on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:25AM (#15742254)
    FTFA: "The hard part is building the ecosystem. You have to get your readers and writers, and I don't know how long it will take me to convince the cell phone companies to do this. How long has RFID been around and it's still not completely built out?"

    Understatement of the week, for sure. I'm struggling to think of more than half a dozen consumer-exposed implementations of RFID. There are a few gas-station speedpass[tm] gimmicks, some high end automobiles use them in their keys, and various department stores use them to keep inventory from walking out the front door. And a few casinos are now using RFID chips to prevent various gaming schemes and track user play. I think that "not completely" built out is more than an understatement. For instance, the uspto [uspto.gov] currently lists 2114 patents including the keyword "RFID" versus 519515 including the keyword "OPTICAL" (if you think optical technologies are not a fair comparison, do your own search with your own chosen technology.. my point is simply that RFID has barely been explored by many industries)

    Not that I claim to be much of an expert on RFID, but at least it appears technologies such as this will be less vulernable to the encryption problems [computerworld.com] that RFID currently experience. (previous link is just some random example i googled for.. /. as well as Bruce Schneier have both covered the RFID encryption [and other inherent weakness] topics extensively in the past)
  • by tgd ( 2822 )
    I managed to lose my 2gb USB dongle within a few days of buying it a couple months ago...

    I can't imagine how quickly I'd lose one of those!
  • by eighty4 ( 987543 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:32AM (#15742277) Homepage
    your wallet is going to need at least three layers of tin foil now...
    • You know one day they will invent an RFID tag type product which is actually enhanced by tinfoil beanies and aluminium-wallet-tacos. Then you'll be in trouble!
    • Nah, there contact readable. You would be better with three of plastic film
    • by Cordath ( 581672 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:59AM (#15742363)
      Actually, no.

      From the article:

      "Information transfer requires actual physical connection to the Memory Spot and Taub says they designed it that way. 'We don't want to increase the range of contact,' he said. 'We think it's just right.'

      Of course, the requirement for physical contact to transfer data means that these chips will be completely unsuitable for many of the applications RFID's seem poised to handle. For example, merchandise tags in stores. With HP's chips merchandise currently protected by security tags will still require separate security tags. With RFID tags the securty tags can be eliminated. The concept of being able to walk into a store, stuff your pockets with merchandise, and walk out and be automatically billed as you pass through the door won't work with these chips. That may appeal to some consumers, but not to the people running stores. Less shop-lifting and no cashiers is a pretty sweet deal.

      I can see these chips being preferable for some applications though. Although a RFID credit card might let you walk out of that store with your stuffed pockets without slowing down, one of HP's chips may ultimately prove more secure even since physical contact is required for them to operate. (i.e. No RFID-sniffing, or whatever they wind up calling it.) Even if RFID proves perfectly secure, the requirement for physical contact will probably be perceived as more secure by most people anyways.

      The storage capacity on HP's chips is impressive however, and will probably open up entirely new applications that RFID never had a hope of filling. Imagine whipping out your HP-ecosystem-ified cell-phone or other such gadget and being able to play short video clips and sounds about a product just by swiping it past your phone. This could range from movie previews from a swiping a movie poster while just outside a movie theater to instructions on how to wash your clothes from a chip inbedded in the tags. Of course, I'm willing to bet that after a while every chip you swipe will try to sell you something before it actually does anything useful...
      • Information transfer requires actual physical connection to the Memory Spot and Taub says they designed it that way.

        Soo... is that why they could design it to be smaller than true RFIDs? It doesn't have to transmit over an air gap & the physical connection means they can have much higer data-transfer rates.

        My guess is that, once RFIDs have taken their place, HP's grain of rice will fill whatever space is leftover between smart cards & barcodes.
        • It appears that proximity may be more a requirement for the inductive power source than for the information transfer. From the article:

          HP says that the chip will "bridge the digital and physical worlds." Taub demonstrated picture albums with the nearly-invisible chip attached to the borders. When a reader touched the chip, audio from the picture was played. Taub next waved the reader over the chip on a medicine bottle and the attached computer received the dosage, direction, and all other pertinent infor

      • Wal-Mart is a big backer of RFID tech. The company set a 2005 deadline for its 100 top suppliers to use it on pallets of products (rather than individual cereal boxes), and tested the tech in Texas in 2004 [computerworld.com]. Wal-Mart reported some success [informationweek.com], but there were also problems [rfidgazette.org]. Not sure what the latest news is. If such chips are going to be everywhere, then we should encourage everyone to have readers for them so that the information on them is in everyone's hands, not just governments' and corporations'. For an exa
  • by RandoX ( 828285 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:35AM (#15742286)
    According to the article, the chips will be rewritable. So instead of just stealing your credit card/door key/passport information, someone will be able to erase it so that yours doesn't work anymore or worse. Imagine the 'splainin you'll have when your passport comes up with the name "O. Bin Ladin"?
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:39AM (#15742299)
    Perhaps the "editors" should talk to each other [slashdot.org]?
  • Lost item locator (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maximthemagnificent ( 847709 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @07:44AM (#15742311)
    I just want 15 foot range cheap RFID tags so I can tag everything I ever want to find again with a
    unique ID. A detector with left and right LEDs would be enough. To never again go insane trying
    to find my glasses, car keys, books, or remote (to say nothing of losing tools outside) would be huge.

    • until you can't find the locator...

      (or you could just tidy up)
      • Me too, to the grandparent. The locator could be cheap (meaning: having several of them), or even attached to my computer. Or expensive and being able to answer when you call for it (by voice).
      • In the middle of building my own house while trying to live in it. This makes it tough.
        Besides, I'm prone to absentmindedly carrying things around with me and leaving
        them places I'd never think to look again (tools mostly).
    • I have a great lost item locator. It's called a wife. Have you tried this approach?
      • My model seems to makes things harder for me to find, not easier. (:
        • No kidding! And does your model complain when you "accuse" her of moving your stuff (i.e., ask her where it is), based on the completely silly reasoning that there are only two of us that live here, and it isn't where I left it...

          Man, if it wasn't for the sex, cooking, cleaning, yardwork, extra income, companionship, day-to-day tasks splitting, good advice, and sex, I don't know if having a wife would be worth the hassle.
        • In my case, I'm the finder. And the usual search algorithm is exhaustive search.

          I'm waiting for google to come up with a solution to this one. Maybe putting an RFID chip into everything would help. I have wondered occasionally what sort of "consumer" RFID readers might be coming available. And can I use any with a linux or OSX laptop? Or with a PalmOS or RIM gadget, for that matter.

    • This should work, until you lose the detector.

      But wait, you can have an RFID on the detector, and get a detector's detector.

      That can be lost too, so you get a Detector's detector detector ...

      Hmm ...
    • I saw one of those for your keys [amazon.com] at Sharper Image the other day.
  • by eingram ( 633624 )
    Big deal, given the seed size of this thing [worth1000.com], I could to it, too.
  • Should be enough for all your needs!
  • a chip the size of a tomato seed that has 500KB of memory and can communicate at 10mbps

    Is that just the chip or the complete assembly? I don't care how small the chip itself is, I'd rather know how big the working unit is. No one uses just the chip so its size doesn't really matter.
    • My favourite arbitrary unit is pages. "So and so device holds 50,000 pages if data!"

      "Boss, I'm currently making only 4 pumpkins per hour, but others with my level of expertise are making as much as 28 medium coffees per hour. I feel a raise of 4 sticks of gum and a bus ticket is more in line with the value of my experience."
  • yippeeee yay ! "hp invent" has finally invented something in 2006.
  • by shaneh0 ( 624603 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @08:25AM (#15742436)
    Despite the misleading summary and lede, inside the article it explains that you need CONTACT with this "tomato seed" to read its data. I can see this as solving some of the same problems as RFID, like the Passports, for example, that you don't want to be read at a distance. But for other problems, like determining how many widgets Acme Co. has in their warehosue, it's not much better then a bar code.

    • Passports without contacts would be better. Imagine a group of people entering (while boarding their flight), say, a room designed for 20 people and working like an airlock. 20 people go in, wait a couple of seconds while their passports and visas are being verified (wirelessly), then they continue walking to their airplane. Better still, a long corridor could be locked when someone with a suspicious passport enters (and completely open when everything's OK).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      FTFA: Taub next waved the reader over the chip on a medicine bottle and the attached computer received the dosage, direction, and all other pertinent information from the prescription.

      Doesn't sound like physical contact is necessary.

  • The EU Commission is proceeding to an Open Consultation on RFID [europa.eu]. From the PR: "We need to build a society-wide consensus on the future of RFID. We need to ensure that RFID technology delivers on its economic potential and to create the right opportunities for its use for the wider public good, while ensuring that citizens remain in control of their data."
  • These are the points with barcodes, RFID and tomato seeds. The more data you pack there, the faster you can access them and the smaller you make 'em, the more troubles you'll have and the more subtle the malicious actions can be.
    For example, we all know that printing a brand new barcode to cover the ligitimate one is as easy as a snap.
    I'd like to see what happens if I stick an adesive RFID right over the ligitimate one or if I shield it before covering.
    And with access speeds like the ones shown by the to
  • Industry Use (Score:3, Informative)

    by coyoteworks ( 989739 ) <coyoteworks@gmx.com> on Wednesday July 19, 2006 @08:48AM (#15742539)
    It's useful to keep in mind the distinction between passive and active RFID. Passive RFID includes only an RF receiver, is read-only, and has a minimal read distance (effectively, about 5 meters). Active RFID tags have a transceiver and are therefore limited only by their power source (and size considerations). Some RFID experts have estimated that between six and twenty cents (USD) is the maximum cost for passive RFID that provide ROI. This makes HP's technology between five and sixteen times greater than the cutoff for ROI on passive RFID.
    • I thought the distinction between passive and active RFID was that 'active' tags had a continuous power source. Passive RFID tags get their power, typically via induction, from the reader and therefore are relatively limited in transmit power and reading distance. This does not preclude them from having receivers and being read/write.

      The little glass vial RFID tags made by TI come in both Read Only and Read/Write. http://www.ti.com/rfid/shtml/prod-trans.shtml#lowf req [ti.com]

      Of course the HP device requires

    • Passive RFID includes only an RF receiver

      That's not true. If it were, the RFID reader wouldn't get a response. It'd be as useful as "write-only memory". And calling it a "receiver" is somewhat misleading too. It's more accurately described as a "tuned inductive pickup". When an appropriate RF signal hits the pickup, enough power is generated to power up the device, which then expends that power transmitting its contents.

      Active RFID tags have a transceiver and are therefore limited only by their power sou

  • HP Sauce has unveiled a new chip the size of a tomato seed that has 500 calories and can feed 10 people per bag.
  • Just wondering... how many encyclopedias fit in a device the size of a tomato seed?
  • ...when technology to track us gets better?
  • Not *alternate*.
  • I am very pleased to see an editor apologise for a dupe. Kudos to him

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