Monday, July 17, 2006

That Hits the Spot...

posted by Scott Roche

HP Labs in Bristol England ("among the premier corporate research labs in Europe", who knew?) has developed a chip they call the "Memory Spot". It's approximately the size of a rice krispie, the working prototypes holding between 32k and 512k, a respectable amount of plain text. The real kicker though is that this thing has wireless capability in speeds equal to the cyber-cafe connection where you're reading this and it doesn't need any batteries.

You'll be able to access the information on this chip by using a PDA or cell phone with the appropriate software installed. When the reader is in range of the chip it wakes up and dumps it's data. One possible use would be to store medical records in a patient's wrist band (or under the skin perhaps). It can also be used in security passes, passports, or anywhere else an RFID tag is used now, the differences being storage capacity and transmit speed.

The Spot isn't the only technology out there trying to put a chip in every pot. Soon enough nearly everything you touch, wear, or buy at the grocery store will be able to "speak" volumes about itself and perhaps about you. When we walk into a shop they can plant a cookie on us that will tell them how often we've shopped there among other things.

All of this definitely has a Orwellian vibe for me. I don't want to carry around any information that I'm unaware of. Merchants want to know where I'm eating, the websites I visit, and whose underwear I'm wearing. Given their behavior in the past I can't assume that they have my best interests in mind. What worries me a little more than that is that the government has just now started to try and educate legislators on RFID, a technology that's over forty years old. Advances in technology are vastly outstripping the ability of our government to protect us from misuse of it and that's assuming that they want to.

From now on I'm making my own underwear. Who's with me?


At 1:12 PM, Blogger codemorse said...


Nice article, and yea, my underwear will be hand-knitted from this point forward.

I fear the ensuing chafe-age.


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