Electronics manufacturer Hitachi has developed a chip measuring 0.4 millimetres, making it so small it can be embedded in money as a security and identification device.
Although the chip could be used for authentication and verification purposes, some security watchers have expressed concern over privacy, saying that users may well object to leaving an electronic mark everywhere they spend cash.
Originally, the "Mew" chip was developed as an authentication tool, so small it could be placed inside bills or documents without being damaged by folding.
Running the document under a chip reader would provide instant verification of whether the item is counterfeit or not. But the company said there is also scope for the chip to be embedded in other products as a tracking device, or to guard against theft.
Weighing in at 60 microns, the chip integrates RF wireless capabilities and 128 bits of ROM (Read Only Memory).
Currently the chip needs an external antenna to communicate its data over a distance of 30 centimetres, but Hitachi has a built-in antenna version lined up.
Although Hitachi is considering offering rewritable capabilities on the chip, for use as a security device, the memory may be read only.
According to the company, the chip could hold a 128bit identification code which, when checked against an external database, could offer other information.
Hitachi formed a new venture company, Mew Solutions, to develop the chip. It will be offering samples before the year is out, under the claim that a final product will be available early next year.
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