HP has developed a memory chip with wireless networking capabilities that is roughly the same size as a grain of rice.
Prototypes of the Memory Spot chip developed by HP Labs contain 256 Kbits to 4Mbits of memory and can transfer data wirelessly at speeds up to 10 Mbit/s.
This amount of storage allows the chips to hold a short video clip, digital pictures, or "dozens of pages" of text, HP said, adding that the chips do not require a battery.
Memory Spot chips get their power using a technique called inductive coupling, which allows power to be transferred from one component to another through a shared electro-magnetic field.
In the case of Memory Spot, this power is supplied by the device that is used to read and write data on the chip.
Data stored on Memory Spot chips could be accessed using a variety of devices, such as specially equipped cell phones or PDAs, making them suitable for a range of applications, such as adhesive attachments applied to a paper document or printed photograph, HP said.
HP is considering different applications for the chip, but has yet to say when the chips will be available.
The Memory Spot is similar to RFID chips, which are designed to store information that can be read wirelessly. However, there are several important differences.
One such difference is range. Information on RFID chips can be read over relatively large distances while HP said Memory Spot readers must be "positioned closely" to access the data stored on the chip.