SeeQVault: Next Generation Secure Memory Initiative gets real

I met with Hideki Mimura of Toshiba, Victor Matsuda of Sony Corporation and KyungGeun Lee of Samsung Electronics to get an update on the Next Generation Secure Memory Initiative, a project which also includes Panasonic and first came on our radar in 2011.

Earlier this year, the initiative started to license the technology under the name of SeeQVault. In a nutshell, NSMi aims to complement the cloud by offering an alternative way of transferring data intuitively and seamlessly.

It is a digital rights management solution that is set to be built in the next generation of memory cards and NSMi will be the one licensing the technology. The royalty per storage unit stands at around 14c (rather than per GB) with licensing fees of up to $1.2m for companies making more than $1 billion revenue.

Matsuda, who was leading the presentation and is the Chief Communications Officer of the entity, said that the boom in mobile devices means that customers want to get access to HD content everywhere and on all their devices.

However doing it wirelessly is a conundrum because of the sheer size of the files, the cost (real or opportunity) associated with streaming, location issues (indoors and outdoors) and the penalty associated with downloading files (from a hardware resource perspective and battery life).

SeeQVault, he added, offers this level of flexibility when compared to other form factors like optical disks (Blu-ray or DVD) and targets a market that’s potentially worth more than $200 billion globally. The solution can live on any storage device that has flash storage; a flash drive, SSD, removable storage cards and even hybrid drives.

In practice, it will exist as a content binding security solution at a flash media level and at a controller/service level, creating a link between online and sell-out and alleviate the dependence on internet connectivity. It’s worth noting that SeeQVault compatible devices can only be produced from a flash memory manufacturing facility (there are only a handful of them globally) and cannot be retrofitted.

Matsuda provided me with a few potential use models. A portable DVR where you can take out a movie, a portable content library, mobile time shifting, download and rent or kiosk applications. I do wonder though how will SeeQVault deal with popular devices like the Google Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 or the iPhone/iPad range, which do not have a microSD card slot.

Furthermore, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba are all founding members of TransferJet, a short-range, low power, high speed data transfer protocol, one which can transfer 1GB of data in around 20 seconds, one which may be an even better way of securely and rapidly transfer big files between devices.

(Addendum: Mr Matsuda sent the following "There are only five manufacturers of flash media. The benefit to this for content providers is that the limited number of manufacturers, coupled with the high cost associated with starting a flash manufacturing line makes the possibility of large scale piracy unlikely because only a handful of facilities can actually manufacture the media. From a device standpoint, any manufacturer currently making a hardware product that utilizes flash memory, either embedded or through the inclusion of an SD card or USB slot, can easily add SeeQVault capability such that the device can read SeeQVault protected SD cards or other memory.")