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IBM Patents Optical Disc With Embedded Flash Memory

The company imagined a next generation optical disc to integrate flash memory to enable stronger interaction features between content and the content consumer.

For those who remember, Toshiba conceded the HD battle to Sony on February 16, 2008 when it was clear that even $300 million marketing campaign could not help the format prevail. A month earlier, on January 18, 2008, IBM filed a patent application entitled "disk with embedded flash memory and disc drive", which addressed the lack of interactivity between the user and data in evolving content scenarios. For example, a game disc could directly store game progress on the disk, rather than on a game console, which would be rather handy when a game would be used in another console.

The idea was to embed flash memory near the center hole and add electrical contact to the opening, which would connect to contacts of a disk player. The patent also noted that the flash memory could be removed and inserted in another disk in the case the disk gets scratched and needs to be replaced. As neat as the idea was, as difficult may it have been to pitch it in 2008 when flash memory prices were still in a different universe and even small amounts of flash memory may have increased the cost of a media disk by a factor greater than 10x.

The patent frequently refers to HD DVD as an example recipient for the technology and this may be just one indication how old the idea really is. Could this disk succeed today? Unlikely. We are used to having our game data in the "cloud" and prefer accessing the data whenever and wherever we want, even if that is not always as convenient as it sounds. 

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