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 ")

Drone 100, Coordinated Drone Performance Team
'The real border was... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.

Satellite Surveillance Reveals Guerrilla Drug Trade
'A photograph, taken from space, of part of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. And see!' - Jack Williamson, 1931.

iBubble Scuba Drone Follower
'Hovered behind him like a large tame bee...' - Karen Traviss, 2004.

'Eye In The Sky' Movie Borrows 35, 80 Year-Old SF
SF writers don't have a problem seeing decades into the future.

 

Google
  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

NASA Submarine For Titan
'Straight away from the shore it swam, seeing nothing but flecks of paraffin...'

Sketching Robots May Displace Starving Artists
Jeez, robots, leave us with something.

Three Clues To Limb Regeneration
'Forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers...'

Soft Caterpillar Robot Powered By Light
'the spread-out "puddle" shape she used for soaking up sun...'

Converting Low Temp Waste Heat To Electricity
'Our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'

Flex Robot Surgeon - Let's Hope You're Sedated
There are other insertion points, right, Neo?

Liquid Metal Terminator Development Hums Right Along
More research is needed - check!

Kiwi Dominos Drone Pizza Delivery
If you can deliver diapers, you can deliver pizzas.

MIT Robot Helps Out In Delivery Room
Oooee nooomaa oooee. And you thought today's doctors were hard to understand.

Self-Healing Textiles! Say Goodbye To Torn Jeans
'The constant renewal of the fibers, repairing any faults...'

Fleets Of Ford Autonomous Cars In 5 Years
'He urgently addressed the vehicle's AI."Can't we go any faster?'

Electric Head Patch Helps PTSD Patients
'Don't confuse this with the little ten amp neurosis models.'

MEDi Robot Calms The Nervous Patient
'Specially programmed stabilizing surrogate devices.'

NASA's Interplanetary Internet DTN
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'

Superior Morals For Autonomous Cars
Exemplars of military and civic virtue.

Housekeeping Robots Easy To Imagine, Tough To Make
George Jetson had it easy.

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.