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HP’s “Memory Spots”

Yesterday HP announced a new “inexpensive, wireless, battery-free microchip that can store documents, audio files or video clips. The memory spots are similar in some ways to the more simplistic radio-frequency identification tags. But they are far smarter and more secure: They can store more than 250 times as much data as RFID, transmit data more than 20 times faster and encrypt it, sidestepping many of the privacy concerns over RFID tags.” This new technology has significant implications for the travel industry. In the Mercury News article the reporter describes the new microchip as “an electronic Post-it note” that can store” dozen of pages of text, a 15-second video clip or other data” and that the results can be viewed on a screen of a cell phone that’s waved in front of the chip, doing away with the need for a computer or Internet connection.” This technology will be a crucial step towards what Howard Rheingold has described in his book Smart Mobs as “sentient things”. The ability for anyone to annotate a physical location such as a restaurant, hotel or guided tours, places social networking into our every day lives. For example, I was on vacation the other week in Monterey California and my wife and I took a whale site seeing tour. Unfortunately during the 3 hour cruise we saw only two whales for about 4 seconds. If this tour company had memory spot at its offices I could have looked at reviews of this tour from other travelers and probably would have learned that whale sightings was rare that week. Now take that same line of thinking and expand it out to other travel spots such as hotels and restaurants and you can quickly see how HP’s new memory spot technology will radically change our travel experience. The new technology is 2-5 years away from mass production, but has the potential to permanently change the way we interact with the physical world.