KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia over the weekend launched what it said is the world’s smallest microchip with radio technology in a quest to position itself as a leading high-tech chip producer for a global market.
The Malaysia Microchip was released after more than two years of research and development. The smallest version measures 0.7 millimetres by 0.7 millimetres, according to officials.
Costing six cents each, three versions of the chip were developed after the Malaysian government in 2003 bought the technology and the rights to design, manufacture and market the chip from Japan’s FEC Inc.
At the launch on Saturday, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi lauded the chip for boosting Malaysian technological expertise.“It is only through being creators of technology, and not mere users of technology, that Malaysia can move up the economic value chain and take its place among the developed countries of the world,” he said in a speech Saturday.
The project was announced by former premier Mahathir Mohamad just before he retired in 2003 as part of his efforts to push Malaysia into hi-tech industries and make the country an industrialised nation by 2020.
The tiny microchip holds technology which emits radio waves on multiple frequencies, which means it can be detected when embedded in paper documents such as money, or in objects or animals.
Its first commercial application in Malaysia is for tagging and identifying original versions of movies on VCDs and DVDs as part of anti-counterfeiting efforts in the country where video piracy is rampant.
The chief executive of the government agency set up to develop and market the Malaysia Microchip, Ahmed Tasir Lope Pihie, told AFP Sunday that “inquiries are coming in” from other countries about the chip.He also said Malaysia’s and Hong Kong’s international airports would in April or May start a pilot project using the chip to tag luggage travelling between the two airports.The chip would cut travel delays by making it easy to locate luggage that was lost or had to be removed from airplanes if passengers failed to show, or for security purposes, he said.“It will improve tremendously the traceability elements and authentication elements,” Ahmed Tasir added.
Home Minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said the microchip was developed for some 50 to 60 million dollars, and Malaysia would use the chip to curb forgeries of documents such as passports and birth certificates.“You think about the application, it is mind-boggling because there is no limit to it,” Radzi told reporters at the launch.
The chip is currently being produced in Japan but the minister said there were plans to move manufacturing to Malaysia.“We will go out internationally to market it anywhere in the world,” he said.