HP's Tiny Chip Could Have Huge Impact

HP's "Memory Spot" breakthrough has big 'Wow' factor. Shows promise to make digital content more ubiquitous.
HP's Labs will unveil a tiny, wireless chip today that could make audio and visual information as well as digital documents far more broadly accessible.

HP's "Memory Spot" research team has developed a memory device, based on CMOS (define) integrated circuit design, that includes a built-in antenna and 10 Mbits/sec. data transfer rate, comparable to Wi-Fi (define) speeds.

Low Power? How about none? Just like an RFID (define) chip, the Memory Spot is completely self-contained with no need for a battery or external electronics. HP said it receives power through "inductive coupling" from a special read-write device, which can then extract content from the memory on the chip.

Inductive coupling is the transfer of energy from one circuit component to another through a shared electromagnetic field. A change in current flow through one device induces current flow in the other device.

HP says the chip is about the size of a grain of rice (2 mm by 4 mm square). Working prototypes have storage capacities ranging from 256K to 4 megabits, or enough to store a short video clip, several images or dozens of pages of text. HP said larger capacities are also possible for future versions.

Analyst Tim Bajarin has seen the prototypes and is very excited about its potential a few years down the road.

"It's a fascinating technology, but remember this is only a technology announcement coming out of HP Labs," Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told internetnews.com. "For it to become a commercial product, HP's got to line up all kinds of partners to make the chips, make the readers, and set up any licensing. It's going to be a two- to five-year process for this to become ubiquitous."

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