HP Has Its Own RFID-Killer In The Wings

Hewlett-Packard unveiled a memory chip the size of a tomato seed on Monday in its Palo Alto laboratories. The tiny chip, called the Memory Spot, can be attached unobtrusively to any object and carry media or data. HP is positioning the chips as a direct alternative to RFID.

"It has some of the characteristics of RFID but it's very different because it's orders of magnitude different in bandwidth," said Howard Taub, vice president and associate director of HP Laboratories, told PCMagazine. "It's like comparing a monkey and a human. There are some similarities but the capabilities are very different." The Memory Spot has a 10 megabits-per-second data-transfer rate and can store up to 4 megabits of data, although the demonstration chips stored only 256 kilobits. The chip has an integrated antenna, which is why it is so much smaller than an RFID chip, which gets most of its size from the separately attached antennae. It receives power through inductive coupling from a special read-write device that extracts data from the memory on the chip. RFIDUpdate had an excellent analysis on Memory Spot versus Gen2 while PC Magazine did a good write-up of the announcement itself.