Thinking back on how big computers were when they started, it is amazing to think of how small they are now. Even thinking about how big a regular desktop computer is, it is hard to believe that there is now a computer that can literally fit on the edge of a nickel. At just one millimeter cubed, the Michigan Micro Mote (M^3) is the smallest computer in the entire world.
Even with how small it is, it is able to do lots of amazing things. It can take pictures, read temperatures and even record pressure readings. It is possible that a computer this small that can do so much could really make life a lot easier in many different settings, such as the medical field. Because it is so small, it could literally be injected into a human body to perform ECGs, take pressure and temperature readings, and probably a lot of other things that we haven’t even thought about yet. There is already talk of using it in the oil industry as a way to detect pockets of oil that can still be extracted before moving to another location.
The creators of the Micro Mote think that it would be an amazing way to keep track of things. What if you could buy a couple of these little computers and attach them to your keys, wallet, maybe your dog’s collar, and you would be able to always locate these things when they got lost. With something this small and powerful, there is really no end to the possibilities you could come up with to find use for it.
When creating something this small and useful, the biggest problem was being able to scale down the size of the battery. It’s just like anything else. Think about how big smartphones are… most of the size is because of the battery. They were able to make it super useful while dialing back the amount of power it uses, which allowed them to scale down the battery, allowing them to scale down the entire computer. I’m not going to try and fully explain it or even understand it, but either way it is amazing.
Obviously because of it’s size, the M^3 doesn’t have the option for a mouse or a keyboard. The way you communicate with it, AND charge it, is by light. By strobing a light at a super high frequency, you can send information to the tiny computer.
Right now, the M^3 is ready for production. So we might be able to get our hands on these little things pretty soon. The faculty and staff are already talking about their excitement to create even smaller computers that can do even more. Is the thought of this amazing, terrifying, or both?
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