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A View from Brad King

HP Unveils a Tiny Mobile Memory Chip

The company has made public a chip the size of a pencil tip, which it hopes will spark a revolution in mobile information.

  • July 17, 2006

A Hewlett-Packard research facility unveiled a tiny wireless device, dubbed a Memory Spot, which the company says will become the equivalent of a digital Post-it, allowing people to easily transfer electronic information between almost anything.

The chip has an adhesive back, allowing it to be stuck anywhere, enabling people to add information to everything from a photo to a passport to medical-alert bracelets, according to this article in the San Jose Mercury News. When the devices eventually become commercially available, possibly in two years, they may cost as little a $.10 per unit, according to this New York Times article.

Much has been made of the coming mobile information age, although most stories have focused on the RFID tags, which, while having a variety of limitations, seemed the best alternative for many uses. HP’s Memory Spot, though, will offer distinct advantages over RFID. From the Mercury News article:

The memory spots are similar in some ways to the more simplistic radio-frequency identification tags. But they are far smarter and more secure: They can store more than 250 times as much data as RFID, transmit data more than 20 times faster and encrypt it, sidestepping many of the privacy concerns over RFID tags.

Two questions come to mind with this type of technology: Will such a small device be practical for every day use by a general, consumer audience? And what happens to the data on the device if it somehow comes “unstuck” from the surface it’s been attached to?

Still, it’s nice to see some movement on the mobile information front. There’s been hype around this (and I’ve been included in some of that), but precious little on the practical front.

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