Paper Gets Smart

By Kathy A. Svitil|Thursday, March 31, 2005

Currency, securities certificates, passports, checks, and other important documents may soon be broadcasting their authenticity, thanks to smart paper, developed by Oji Paper of Japan in collaboration with two Japanese high-tech companies. Each sheet contains a flat, dust-speck-size radio frequency identification chip—a micro radio transmitter and receiver—imprinted with an unalterable serial number. The chip can also store the name of a gift-certificate recipient or the payee of a check. When activated by radio signal, the chip sends back data about its identity.

Unlike other smart papers, which can be as thick and stiff as a credit card, the Oji version is just a tad heftier than ordinary paper. Chips are embedded within fibers rather than between plastic sheets. The special paper can be fed through regular copiers and fax machines and can withstand crumpling and other normal wear. It is being tested in Malaysia on its road-tax certificates (used for vehicle registration).

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