The firm developing a tiny disposable computer has an agreement with a Taiwan semiconductor company to mass produce the ASIC at the heart of the throwaway product that can collect, process, and exchange several pages of encrypted data.
“We'll be able to have the ASIC [produced] in millions by the fall,” said Cypak AB's marketing director, Stina Ehrensvard, in an interview Thursday. Ehrensvard declined to reveal whom the “major” semiconductor manufacturer is. “That little chip is our core product.”
The Stockholm-based firm is wrapping up evaluation trials with the Swedish and German post offices, two Swedish university hospitals, and pharmaceutical firms in both the U.S. and Sweden.
The ASIC, with 32k of memory, is just 0.3 millimeters in height--small enough to be incorporated into the standard 0.8 millimeter-deep credit card. The paperboard computer is created using conductive ink. Its data can be read by two kinds of reader technologies--one is RFID-based and complies with the ISO 15963 standard, and the other is a cheaper proprietary device designed by Cypak. The typical configuration also includes a microscopic antenna.
The processor--factory-programmed with a unique 32-bit identity--has 32kbytes of non-volatile memory. It utilizes a lithium-manganese battery with an active minimum life of two years. The PC reader uses a Cypak-developed report generator and a Microsoft Windows ActiveX-component driver. Data can be downloaded to popular applications, such as Excel.
“It has much more intelligence than a bar code,” said Ehrensvard, describing a trial underway with the German Post Office. “Our secure courier packaging is now being tested in a field trial by the Deutsche Post and DHL [a courier company] in the product form of tamper-proof envelopes. The envelope tells the receiver about content, sender, when it was closed, when and if it was tampered with--all before it has been opened.”
The German trial stemmed from an ongoing program with the Swedish Post Office to design and test the electronic sealing and tamper proofing of Cypak boxes, which are called SecurePak
While Cypak had to develop interfaces and readers for the disposable computer, the company, according to Ehrensvard, is focusing on selling just its ASIC chip. She said the disposable-computing product is small enough to be integrated into books, passports, and credit cards.
The firm is targeting its Intelligent Pharmaceutical Packaging (IPP) product concept at pharmaceutical firms. A trial at the University of Lund's hospital is underway with 1200 IPP packages. Cypak believes the IPP packaging--enabling control of medication dosage and accurate tracking--can offer widespread, inexpensive use. The computer enables users to time-stamp medicine dosages, which can be integrated with a patient's electronic diary. Another feature produces sound reminders.
In the U.S., Cypak has an agreement with MeadWestvaco Healthcare Packaging to market its products and technology in the Americas.
The firm has software-developer kits, as well as evaluation kits for testing the IPP and SecurePak products. Ehrensvard said Cypak will be prepared to mass-produce millions of its core ASIC-technology products this fall.
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