HP hails Memory Spot chips to extend content access

Bridging physical and digital worlds, Hewlett-Packard on Monday unveiled a miniature wireless data chip called "Memory Spot," which could be attached to almost any object and provide broad access to digital content.

In development at HP Labs for about four years, Memory Spot is a memory device based on CMOS and is about the size of a grain of rice or smaller, at 2 mm to 4 mm square. Chips could be embedded or stuck on objects and make available content that is now found mostly on electronic devices or the Internet, HP said. Digital content is effectively freed from the PC and the Internet and offered on devices ranging from photos to pharmaceuticals.

HP demonstrated the technology during a presentation at HP Labs on Monday morning. The 10Mbps data transfer rate of the chip makes it 10 times faster than Bluetooth wireless technology and comparable to Wi-Fi speeds, HP said. Storage capacity ranges from 256Kb to 4Mb in prototypes.

In early versions of Memory Spot chips, short video clips could be stored as could several images or dozens of pages of texts, HP said. Power is received through inductive coupling, which is the transfer of energy from one circuit component to another through a shared electromagnetic field, HP said.

Memory Spot has various consumer and business applications, HP said. These could include:

-- Storing medical records on a hospital patient's wristband.

-- Providing audio-visual supplements to postcards and photos.

-- Fighting counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry.

-- Adding security to identity cards and passports.

-- Supplying additional information for printed documents.

Additionally, it could be used for scanning of documents into printers, which are a major part of HP's business. Or, it could be used for games.

Memory Spot is supplemented with a small reader/writer device that currently is in a prototype phase. The reader/writer technology could be implemented in devices such as a printer, cell phone, or camera.

Security is provided in Memory Spot through technologies such as cryptographic algorithm.

Consumers and businesses will have to wait for Memory Spot technology. It is not expected to be available on the market for two to five years, said Howard Taub, vice president and associate director of HP Labs. An ecosystem of business partners will be needed to provide the technology, he said.

Memory Spot is expected to be available for licensing to other vendors, even to competitors, which would generate royalties for HP, Taub said.

"I would hope that this is not just a licensing play but that we actually use it ourselves because it's important to our businesses," Taub said.Â

Memory Spot will be submitted to an industry standards body for its consideration. Taub would not identify the name of the organization but said an announcement would be made shortly.

Although it is too early to determine precise pricing, HP hopes that Memory Spot chips will be sold for about ten cents each or for tens of cents. Or, a strip of 20 chips may theoretically be priced at US$20.

Memory Spot is similar to RFID but is different, also. While both involve embedding of small chips on various objects and require readers, Memory Spot is not geared toward inventory applications like RFID and it has an integrated antenna. Memory Spot also does not require a separate database to find information. "It's all stored on the Memory Spot," Taub said.

"With RFID, you get a small number of bits and generally, you have to go somewhere else to look up the information," Taub said.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Krill

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?