Hitachi develops RFID chip for bank notes, documents

Hitachi Ltd. has developed an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip that requires no external antenna and makes possible the embedding of tracking and identification chips in bank notes, tickets and other paper products.

At present Hitachi's Myu chip, and many competing chips from other companies, require antennas through which data is received and transmitted to a chip reader and also power is drawn. In the case of the current generation Myu chip this antenna can be between five centimeters and seven centimeters long, said Keisaku Shibatani, a spokesman for Hitachi.

Even though the chips themselves are very small, at 0.4 millimeters square, the large antenna needed effectively limits their use in certain applications. The new Hitachi chip is the same size as the current model although requires no antenna. This means it is suitable for use in a range of applications including embedding in bank notes and documents, said Hitachi.

In May this year, a Japanese media report said Hitachi is talking with the European Central Bank on a project to embed euro bank notes with RFID chips. Shibatani, the Hitachi spokesman, said Tuesday that such a project is not underway at present.

The announcement Tuesday confirms that such a project will soon be technically feasible although several other potential hurdles remain, such as pricing the chips low enough to make it cost-effective and also combating growing consumer resistance to RFID.

The company announced one application for the new chip. It will be embedded into tickets for the Expo 2005 fair that will take place in Aichi prefecture in central Japan in 2005.

A production schedule for the chips has not yet been decided and neither has pricing, said Shibatani. The chip announced Tuesday operates in the Japanese RFID band, which is around 2.4GHz, he said.

First announced in 2001, Myu chips contain a 128-bit identification number that is burned into the chip at the time of manufacture meaning it is not possible to change the number once produced.

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Martyn Williams

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