BBC: The days of having to open up your PC to fit a new card to improve its ability to handle graphics or produce sounds could soon be at an end.

Computer developers are drawing up specifications for smaller, discrete plug-in modules that could take the place of the familiar laptop and PC expansion cards.

The cards will act as readers for smart media, storage systems in their own right, identification tokens as well as upgrading the memory or other capabilities of a laptop or desktop machine.

The first of the new add-on cards are due to be available in 2004.