Chip links digital and physical worlds

Paul Boughton

The experimental chip, developed by the ‘Memory Spot’ research team measures 2mm square in CMOS with up to 4Mbits of memory with a high speed wireless link through a built-in antenna.

The chip has a 10Mbit/s data transfer rate, 10 times faster than Bluetooth wireless technology and comparable to a wireless LAN connection. 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.

The chips could be embedded in a sheet of paper or stuck to any surface, and may eventually be available in a booklet as self-adhesive dots.

“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 at HP Labs.

The storage capacity ranges from 256Kbits to 4Mbits that could store a very short video clip, several images or dozens of pages of text. Information can be accessed by a read-write device that could be incorporated into a cell phone, PDA, camera or printer, and users could add information to the chip using the various devices.

“We are actively exploring a range of exciting new applications for Memory Spot chips and believe 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,” said Howard Taub, HP vice president and associate director of HP Labs.

Memory Spot chips have numerous possible consumer and business-based applications, says HP, such as medical records, audio photos where audio is attached to a physical photo, or anti-counterfeit tags.

For more information, visit