Hitachi develops RFID chip for bank notes, documents

The new chip, just at 0.4 mm square, requires no external antenna

Hitachi Ltd. has developed a radio frequency identification (RFID) 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 5 cm to 7 cm long, said Keisaku Shibatani, a spokesman for Hitachi.

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

In May, a Japanese media report said Hitachi is talking with the European Central Bank on a project to embed RFID chips in euro bank notes. Shibatani said today that such a project is not under way.

The announcement 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 them cost-effective and also combating growing consumer resistance to RFID.

Hitachi announced one application for the new chip. It will be embedded in tickets for the Expo 2005 fair that will take place in Aichi Prefecture in central Japan in 2005.

A production schedule for the chips hasn't been decided, and neither has pricing, said Shibatani. The chip operates in the Japanese RFID band, which is around 2.4 GHz, 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 isn't possible to change the number once produced.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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