Printable memory – more than a million entries?

I was looking through my past emails today and I came across a new product sold by Inventables:

Printed Rewritable Memory Development Kit

I first thought the focus was going to be on the “printed” part, but actually it’s just around being a flexible memory storage component. So I was looking a little further to know how much it can store and I read:

Each Thinfilm Memory™ sticker costs about 5-cents apiece in volume and each sticker contains 20 bits of data, corresponding to a lookup table that can store more than a million entries.

So it’s a 20-bit memory. That by itself sounds very small (you can’t even store 3 ASCII characters). So they call the brilliant marketing people and come up with something that might make it sound usable. Actually what they really are trying to remind people is that:


That’s big, right? I guess it all depends on what you are going to use it for. If it’s just to store some sort of multiple-choice configuration (should the toy say “hi” or “oi” when connected to the base?), then it’s probably good enough. However, if you want to store things like a serial number so that you can track something, then you might end up hitting the limit at some point.

In any way, it’s still an interesting technology. It requires contact to a reader, so that limits its usability somehow, but I can see it being usable for things like toys and art pieces (think of something you can control the color or frequency by switching physical objects on well-defined connectors – the memory is used to identify the object that has been connected).

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