When HP unveiled its Memory-Spot technology, comparisons with RFID were inevitable. But a closer analogy might be a contactless USB memory disk in stick-on form, because that's much closer to how HP is pitching the concept.

That's not to say it couldn't be used for RFID - as long as you don't mind having to hold the RFID reader next to the tag for a moment - but current RFID technology is probably a better fit for that application right now.

The idea is a fascinating one - digital memory that you can attach to other things. Possible uses that have already been tried out include tagging a printed document with its digital version, so copying turns into printing, with no need for the analogue scanning process. And with most digital cameras now capable of recording audio tags with photos, how about attaching that audio to the printed picture?

It can be used for authentication too, so the data inside can be validated. HP researchers reckon that could make it attractive for proving that a drug package is genuine, say - and for good measure, the pharmacist could also put onto the same chip an audio version of the instructions to the patient.

The problem of course is ubiquity: there's not much point giving someone a tagged item if they can't read it. Eventually, maybe we will all have readers plugged into our PCs, or even built into mobile phones, but until then it's a niche thing, for closed apps where the Memory-Spot is going to be written and read by either the same person or organisation.

Some of the closed applications that have been theorised might seem a little strange to British eyes - data-enabling a paper scrapbook, say, so you can keep memorable audio or video files in it.

Others make a lot more sense though. How about tagging each piece of equipment you have with its service manual in digital form and issuing all your service techs with readers?