RFID 'Powder' - World's Smallest RFID Tag
The world's smallest and thinnest RFID tags were introduced yesterday by Hitachi. Tiny miracles of miniaturization, these RFID chips (Radio Frequency IDentification chips) measure just 0.05 x 0.05 millimeters.
The previous record-holder, the Hitachi mu-chip, is just 0.4 x 0.4 millimeters. Take a look at the size of the mu-chip RFID tag on a human fingertip.
(Hitachi mu-chip tiny RFID tag)
Now, compare that with the new RFID tags. The "powder type" tags are some sixty times smaller.
(Powder RFID chips next to a human hair)
The new RFID chips have a 128-bit ROM for storing a unique 38 digit number, like their predecessor. Hitachi used semiconductor miniaturization technology and electron beams to write data on the chip substrates to achieve the new, smaller size.
Hitachi's mu-chips are already in production; they were used to prevent ticket forgery at last year's Aichi international technology exposition. RFID 'powder,' on the other hand, is so much smaller that it can easily be incorporated into thin paper, like that used in paper currency and gift certificates.
Science fiction fans will have a field day with this new technology. In his 1998 novel Distraction, Bruce Sterling referred to bugged money:
They always played poker with European cash. There was American cash around, flimsy plastic stuff, but most people wouldn't take American cash anymore. It was hard to take American cash seriously when it was no longer convertible outside U.S. borders. Besides, all the bigger bills were bugged.
(Read more about bugged money)
These tiny RFID tags could be worked into any product; combined with RFID readers built into doorways, theft of consumer goods would be practically impossible. It's not clear from the references provided, but even if this chip needs an external antenna, the attached antenna would be a tiny ribbon of wire more narrow than a human hair and only a fraction of an inch long.
How far away could you be, and still read the information from this "powder RFID?" The source article is very thin; however, the mu-chip mentioned earlier is readable from a distance of 25 centimeters (about ten inches) with an external antenna like the one mentioned in the preceding paragraph. This doesn't sound like much, but it's certainly enough to read people going through doorways, for example.
These devices could also be used to identify and track people. For example, suppose you participated in some sort of protest or other organized activity. If police agencies sprinkled these tags around, every individual could be tracked and later identified at leisure, with powerful enough tag scanners.
To put it in the context of popular culture, see the picture below, which was taken from the 1996 movie Mission Impossible. One of the IMF operatives places a tracking tag on the shoulder of a computer programmer. Pretty clunky-looking tag...
(Tracking and ID tag from Mission Impossible movie)
Take a look at these earlier stories related to RFID, and consider how much easier it will be with tinier chips: RFID Sensor Tag Shower For Disasters (gentle rain of RFID), RFID-Maki: Easy Payment Sushi (just tag the sushi directly, then scan customer's stomach [no joke, see digestible tags]) and VeriChip Chairman Proposes RFID Chips For Immigrants (just dust the border).
Via Pink Tentacle. Also, read more about the mu-chip.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/14/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 30 )
of related articles:
What is RFID?
How RFID Works
How is RFID used inside a living body?
What can RFID be used for?
Is RFID Technology Secure and Private?
Are There Concerns About How RFID Will Be Used? (Update)
Next-Generation Uses of RFID?
What Are Zombie RFID Tags?
RFID Information Technology Articles
Problems With RFID
Advantages of RFID Versus Barcodes
Contactless Credit Card Advantages
Contactless Credit Card Disadvantages
Related News Stories -
IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'
Kuri Robot Roams Your Home, Taking Pictures
'Small devices with cameras and sound equipment which could move freely...'
Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...' - Roger Zelazny, 1966.
China's Drone Fleet Flies In Formation
'Programmed to hang... in a hexagonal grid pattern.' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'
Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'
MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.
Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'
Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!
China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.
Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'
Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories