The self-evident truth about computers is that they are getting smaller. Imagine a computer, so small, you can compare it to a grain of salt. Imagine a computer, so sensitive, it can measure changes in your body cells.
Researchers at the University of Michigan created the world’s smallest computer! The previous version, the Michigan Micro Mote, measuring 2x2x4mm, was an entirely autonomous computing structure, acting as a smart sensing system. David Blaauw (a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan) said “As you shrink down in size, the percentage of the system tends to be dominated by the battery. It’s actually not hard to make chips small, but it is hard to make them low power. We could have very small chips, but we’d still end up with really large batteries."
However, they didn’t stop here. In March this year, IBM announced a new, tinier computer. Smaller than a grain of salt, it was measured 1x1mm and it packs several hundred thousand transistors. Before you think why would anyone need that, let me explain.
Cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin that became very popular in the recent years, relies on technology to keep its transactions utterly secure. The technology behind Bitcoin called a blockchain, gives each transaction its own fingerprint. This makes it nearly impossible to fake the transaction records. The new microscopic computer contains a processor, memory, storage and a communication module and it’s essentially designed to be an anti-fraud device. It can be embedded within the price tags to record the movement of the product. “They’ll be used in tandem with blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to ensure an object’s authenticity from its point of origin to when it reaches the hands of the customer,” IBM’s Arvind Krishna explained.
One of the most interesting things to know about this powerful little chip is that it costs less than 10 cents to manufacture. Can you sense the future now? While, at the moment, this method is used almost solely for online transactions, IBM is promising that the first models could be available in the next 18 months. In fact, they have already started to use it on food-supply chains to prevent food poisoning. How can you not love technology?!
While we are enjoying our safe food, waiting for the new computer’s primetime to come, make sure your glasses are somewhere nearby and be sure not to blink because you’ll miss it.
Author: Darina Kosta