Earlier this year (February 12, 2004) NTT ("Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation"), the Japanese telecom giant who brought us i-Mode, announced a memory media break through called "info-MICA", which stands for "Multi-layered Imprinted CArd". This revolutionary invention may change the storage media industry forever. Basically what this is, is a cheap, light weight, durable, inexpensive to manufacture and high capacity storage medium.
Remember what CD and DVD has done for the music and movie industries, well this could be in line to replace the CDs and DVDs of our time.
Just to give you an idea what this can do, remember Tom Cruise's movie "Minority Report" in 2002? Remember how the characters in the movie, particularly "John Anderton" [Tom], played the recordings of his family movies over and over again. Well think back to the media in which the recordings were stored. This clear plastic disc is what Info-MICA can be and will be.
At the moment NTT has achieved a 1GB storage for the media, they are hoping to reach the 10GB mark very soon.
At the moment the 1GB Info-MICA card is only the size of a 1 cent American stamp. By the time they reach 10GB storage, a full motion picture will be able to stored in this Info-MICA cards.
You may say, why do we need another storage media, given that we have so many Media Cards already. Possibly type for our digital camera, another for our DV (digital video) camera, yet another for our PDA and may be one more for the cellular phone.
Well, what makes a "high" capacity media card great are the following:
1. storage capacity
2. power consumption of the drive that reads the media
3. cost of manufacture
6. last but not the least, given the paranoidal behaviours of the "media giants", Digital Rights Management capability
Info-MICA does well in all of the above. Because the medium on which Info-MICA are made with, are just plastic wafers. Therefore, they are inexpensive to make and light weight. Due to the technology used, "thin film holography", the media is relatively durable unless you snap it in half. Although, I think in theory, if you have all the pieces you may be able to tape it back together and it should still work.
Again because of the thin film holography technology used to etch the information onto the media, according to NTT it "tolerates fluctuation in light source wavelength and thermal expansion of the media". Meaning it can use a pulsating laser to read the information on the card, plus tolerable to the varying temperatures that may cause the card to deform.
As for copy protection, according to NTT, "because this media uses hologram, high level of knowledge is required for the creation of the master. It is virtually impossible to physically copy the fine concave-convex pattern engraved on the plastic material.". This solves the problems that the "media giants" have.
Well you may ask, why isn't there more fan fare. The industry analysts may be skeptical, pointing to past storage media that came and gone, for example:
1. Sony's MiniDisk
2. Zip/Jazz/Cip disk
Well the Info-MICA is quite a big leap in technology advancement compare to these two example, additionally it has the benefits that I mentioned above.
My only reservation is that Info-MICA is currently a "read only media for consumers. I hope that NTT will cooperate with other manufactures (particularly the personal digital appliance manufactures) to explore the possibilities of the Info-MICA technology further. So that consumers like myself can benefit from their hard work.
The Minority Report feature, at least for storage media, may be here sooner than we think.