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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 30 )

Index 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
RFID Glossary
Contactless Credit Card Advantages
Contactless Credit Card Disadvantages

Related News Stories - (" Surveillance ")

Graphene Thermopile May Grant Predator Heat Vision To Humans
'What the hell are you?' Predator vision systems at work.

RF-Capture Lets MIT Boffins See Through Walls
'A television set that would see through walls...' - Nat Schachner, 1936.

MIT's Microwave Camera Sees Through Walls
'Through the lenses of those goggles Costigan's keen and highly-trained eyes studied every concealed detail...' - EE 'Doc' Smith, 1934.

Ultralight Origami Crane UAV Flexes Its Wings
'They began to flex their wings.' -


  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.






Current News

Solowheel Xtreme Heinlein Tumblebug Video
'The cadets 'stood to horse' alongside their poised tumblebugs...'

Algorithm Predicts Marriage Success (HAL 9000 Will See You Now)
'I can tell from your voice harmonics, Dave, that you're badly upset....'

Denmark Island Earth (Verdenskortet ala Ringworld)
'They wanted to keep something of what they were losing...'

Humai Startup To Implant Your Brain In Robot Body
'The astounded onlookers saw a human brain snugly encased in a transparent skull-shaped receptacle.'

Blue Origin Reusable Rocket's Vertical Landing
We're getting there, one launch at a time.

X125 Snake-Arm Inspection Robot Video
'... long, flexible, glittering tentacles...'

Super-Thin Smart Glazing Displays
'...a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling color.'

Have Scientists Found A Parallel Universe Leaking Into Ours
'Ellis had found a weak point, a shimmer, at which another continuum completely had been visible.'

Active Wellness Smart Car Seat
'Maybe the car was right...'

Tech Tats Prototype Sfnal Devices
'...Permanently fixed in the centre of his forehead.'

ANNABELL AI Can Learn English From Scratch
'...Could understand not only classic programming but also Loglan and English..."

Tesla Suit Gives Haptic Hugs
'Then a pressure on the lips...'

Surgically Implantable Artificial Kidney Starts Testing
'George Walt... proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'

Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
'That moisture trickles down...'

Senate Passes Space Mining Legislation
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite...'

Microsoft's Surface Book Is Part Clipboard
'Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.