Stony Stevenson brings news from Rice University about designing integrated circuits with multiple distinct identities, which could be used in new types of hardware-based DRM, among other things. From the news release: "'With "n-variant" integrated circuits, it is possible to design portable media players that are inherently unique,' said Farinaz Koushanfar, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice and principal investigator on the project. 'New methods of digital rights management can be built upon such devices. For example, media files can be made such that they only run on a certain variant and cannot be played by another.' Koushanfar said content providers could also use n-variant chips to sell metered access to software, music or movies because the chips can be programmed to switch from one variant to another at a particular time or after a file has been accessed a certain number of times."