The BBC’s science fest, the Tomorrow’s World exhibition, kicked off today at London’s Earl’s Court with the emphasis on inventions and inventing.

One of the inventions that caught our eye was the prototype Qdos media card. The credit card-size device houses a smartmedia chip which can store up to 16MB of any type of data from pictures to audio.

"People are familiar with the credit card size and already use a smart card – the SIM card – in their mobile phones," said inventor John Monteith. “Data is stored on or read from the card via a separate USB card reader.”

Monteith said the card had myriad uses for consumers and businesses alike, citing hospital x-ray storage as just one possible example. Qdos has also caught the eye of Treasury officials who are interested in using the technology to hold passport data electronically.

“The emphasis is on data portability and security,” said Monteith. “Book publishers wary of copyright issues arising from electronic means of distribution can use the Qdos card as a secure way to publish e-Books which can be read anywhere.”

Parents, too, can reap benefits, said Monteith. “Using e-purse facilities, parents can control their kids’ online spending without curbing their freedom.”

At the moment, the cards are only available as developer kits, but eventually Monteith sees them taking off on a much bigger scale. “If we can get the smartcard readers into high street stores, we’ll have achieved our aim.”

Elsewhere at Tomorrow’s World Live…
Energy efficiency was much vaunted throughout the day, with Honda’s electro-petrol concept car and a gas/petrol model from Volvo.

Those inventors’ favourites, everyday household appliances, came in for an overhaul, too. On display were a water-saving, iMac-style toilet and self-heating meals for the emergency services or the just plain lazy.

Much energy was expended by the younger visitors on the numerous interactive exhibits, with sponsor HP not missing a trick by encouraging model building, competitive science activities and web surfing on, rather unsurprisingly, HP PCs.