Progress Bar flags a post from Pink Tentacle (which is itself a translation of a Japanese news story) about a new micro-miniaturized radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that’s been developed by Hitachi. The new chip is 0.05 x 0.05 millimeters — that’s 1/20th of a millimeter on either side, or small enough to exist as a powder or dust, and possibly even as a floating cloud. Each can store a 38-digit number, which means you could actually get quite a bit of information into a cloud or dusting of such chips. The pic above (borrowed from Pink Tentacle) shows an older chip on the left, and the new chips on the right, next to a human hair. While Pink Tentacle mentions them in connection with embedding them in sheets of paper, that doesn’t even begin to touch the potential for this kind of thing. I’m much more interested in more 3D-focused applications that these could be used for.
For instance, could they be used to coat an object and track it through space? To create new kinds of visual effects? To leave a trail of digital bread crumbs? Could you scatter them in the clouds to track weather patterns? And here’s a crazy idea: How about a totally secure communications channel between, say, two offices in the same building, where you embed your message on a whole bunch of such tiny little chips and then send a cloud of them scooting down a physical tube that’s insulated against RFID readers, so that they end up in some device that can read them at their destination? RFID powder: let your imagination run wild.