The technology uses a high-precision laser to print dots of binary code across a square of quartz glass. The means for reading the data seems somewhat cumbersome, however, involving coupling an optical microscope to a compatible computer.
Hitachi claims the technology is practically fireproof — one of the tests involved the retrieval of data after heating a sample to 1,000 degrees Celsius for two hours.
Given that its glass slides’ storage capacity tops out at about 40 MB per square inch, about the same as a CDR, the technology is probably not destined for widespread adoption. It would seem most useful for archiving critical information, great books, cultural data, that kind of thing — a record of civilization that survives into an unimaginably distant future.
On the other hand, if Hitachi achieves some sort of breakthrough and manages to boost the storage potential, things could become much more interesting.