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Smart-dust: Hitachi Develops World's Smallest RFID Chip. Nicknamed "Powder" or "Dust", the surface area of the new chips is a quarter of the original 0.3 x 0.3 mm, 60µm-thick chip developed by Hitachi in 2003. And this RFID chip is only one-eighth the width of the previous model.
-- Hitachi expects this tiny size will open the way to new applications for wireless RFID chips. The RFID "powder" can be incorporated into thin paper, such as currency, creating so-called "bugged" money.
The RFID Loc8tor can identify special RFID tags from a distance of up to 183 meters (600 feet), and the RFID chips have GPS capabilities.
"By taking advantage of the merits of compactness, high authenticity and wireless communication, and combining it with Internet technology, the µ-Chip may be utilized in a broad range of applications such as security, transportation, amusement, traceability and logistics" – said Hitachi engineers who worked on the project.
I suspect that they only supply readers and they probably assume you know where you put the tags. Readers can pick up tags from a fair distance depending on the transmitted power and whether the tags are passive, semi-passive or active ones with batteries in them. One of the links I gave in the original post mentions 300ft I think but that may be for active tags.
Maybe Hitachi makes a detector for the small chips?
The read range of passive tags depends on many factors: the frequency of operation, the power of the reader, interference from metal objects or other RF devices. In general, low-frequency tags are read from a foot or less. High frequency tags are read from about three feet and UHF tags are read from 10 to 20 feet. Active RFID tags, on the other hand, offer very long read ranges -- up to 300 feet under optimal conditions.
it can operate at temperatures of -40 degrees to +85 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees to +185 degrees Fahrenheit—make it unique, he says, as does the ability of the tag's built-in antenna to capacitively couple with a booster antenna (or other metallic object), thereby extending read range to 4 or 5 meters (13.1 feet to 16.4 feet).