In "Hitachi develops RFID chip for bank notes, documents," IDG News Service said this week that Hitachi has developed a new radio frequency identification (RFID) chip which doesn't needed an external antenna.
This opens the possibility to embed these chips into virtually anything, from bank notes to plane tickets.
Here is a picture of these RFID chips sitting close to grains of rice (Credit: Hitachi, Ltd.).
In May, a Japanese media report said Hitachi is talking with the European Central Bank on a project to embed RFID chips in euro bank notes. Shibatani said today that such a project is not under way.
The announcement confirms that such a project will soon be technically feasible although several other potential hurdles remain, such as pricing the chips low enough to make them cost-effective and also combating growing consumer resistance to RFID.
In "We Know What You're Buying," Slate looks at the possible implications of such devices which don't require a battery. Here are some short quotes.
No battery means RFIDs can be much smaller than most digital gadgets and can be placed permanently in hard-to-reach places. The pet ID implanted under the skin of my cat's neck is the size of a grain of rice, and it never needs replacing. Hitachi's new chip, which carries its own built-in antenna, takes the technology down to a new level of tiny: At less than half a millimeter square, it's about the size of a pepper flake. Yet the 128-bit ID number embedded in each Hitachi chip is big enough, in theory, to catalog every grain of sand on the world's beaches and deserts, plus every star in the known universe, several times over.
At less than 10 cents apiece in bulk, RFID tags are fast approaching a price point that makes them a viable replacement for bar code stickers. First, though, they'll have to run the same gauntlet that UPC bar codes did: Privacy gurus and paranoids alike have already declared RFID the latest incarnation of Big Brother.
You probably recall the experiments by Gillette or Wal-Mart which were abandoned for these reasons.
Anyway, another company is using RFID tags to replace badges with bar codes. In "SAP to show off RFID's potential," IDG News Service says that at SAP's TechEd conference, attendees' badges will include RFID tags instead of bar codes.
By showcasing the technology at TechEd, SAP hopes to prompt developers to consider RFID's potential uses. SAP will include RFID tags in attendees' badges. On the show floor, vendor booths will feature receiver antennae that can record the contact information of booth visitors, without the usual badge-scanning routine. Kiosks in the exhibit hall will allow visitors to stroll up and check their personal show schedules, which will be automatically detected though the RFID tags and displayed.
"It will not only make for a better conference, but it might also end up spurring a customer project down the road," said spokesman Bill Wohl. "You've got to think one or two (of the attendees) is going to think, 'Hmm, I've got a project in the works this could be useful for.' It's that sort of process that creates innovation in our industry."
And SAP has really a grand plan.
SAP hopes to develop a user-led community akin to the one Sun Microsystems Inc. has developed around Java, Wohl said. As SAP began encouraging development around its software with more tools than just its proprietary ABAP programming language, it recognized that it needed to offer new kinds of support to its expanding pool of developers, he said.
Sources: Martyn Williams, IDG News Service, September 2, 2003; Paul Boutin, Slate, September 5, 2003; Stacy Cowley, IDG News Service, September 5, 2003
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