RF Tx without internal power supply

Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at verizon.net
Tue Jul 18 11:44:10 CDT 2006


HP's Tiny Chip Could Have Huge Impact
By David Needle
July 17, 2006

UPDATED: PALO ALTO, CALIF. -- HP's Labs unveiled a tiny, wireless chip
today that could make audio and visual information as well as basic text
information far more broadly accessible.

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

Low Power? How about none? The Memory Spot chip 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

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 said the chip is about half the size of a grain of rice (2 mm by 4 mm
square). Working prototypes have storage capacities ranging from 256K to
4 megabytes, 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."

HP confirmed it's basically going public now to let other companies,
potential partners, know about its existing so it can get an ecosystem
and licensing started. The computer giant has filed more than 50 patents
related to Memory Spots and a few have already issued. NEW:

"Some of the patents are speculative," said Howard Taub, vice president
and associate director of HP Labs. "We were able to do a lot of patents
because this projects started from a different direction than RFID, .
Taub also said HP had applied to a "major standards" body to help better
establish Memory Spot technology.

HP (Quote, Chart) said the reader, a read-write device, could be
incorporated into a range of digital devices such as cell phones, PDAs,
cameras, and printers. "The Memory Spot chip frees digital content from
the electronic world of the PC and the Internet and arranges it all
around us in our physical world," said Ed McDonnell, Memory Spot project
manager, HP Labs.

This is also one tough chip. HP said Memory Spots can be embedded on
paper or plastic, and it's been run through a hot laminator and a laser
printer without damage.

Potential applications run the gamut. The tiny dot-sized chip attached
to a bracelet could store a patient's entire medical history. It could
likewise be used for identity cards and passports. A memory spot chip
could be attached to a photo or other document to add audio or video –
think multimedia postcard. Another security application could involve
items like pharmaceuticals where the attached memory spot would verify
the authenticity of the jar's contents.

In the latter case and other areas, there is potential overlap with
RFID  chips. Bajarin thinks Memory Spots could be better than RFID in
some areas. For example, HP's technology is wireless but it requires the
reader to be almost touching the memory spot. In the passport example,
you'd have to basically touch the chip with the reader to get that
information. But with RFID's greater broadcast range, it's possible to
use a reader clandestinely to grab information thought to be secure.

Taub said HP is actively exploring a range of new applications for
Memory Spot chips. He added in a statement that HP believes "the
technology could have a significant impact on our consumer businesses,
from printing to imaging, as well as providing solutions in a number of
vertical markets."

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