The more powerful computer technology gets the smaller the devices that control them become. A team led by David Blaauw, at the University of Michigan, has recently developed an entire computer that measures less than half a centimeter. The proportion was achieved by taking into consideration the size of the computer’s battery. They reduced the amount of power needed to run it, and were therefore able to make everything more concise.
Known as the Michigan Micro Mote, this computer, is unable to connect to a keypad or mouse. Developers were, therefore, faced with the challenge of finding another way for it to communicate with users. They discovered that light strobed at a high frequency can send information to the Micro Mote, and began using this source to program and charge it. The data received can then be processed, and transported to a different computer, by radio frequencies. This is done using an internal Phoenix processor, which only uses 500 pico-watts when in stand-by mode and enables the battery to be fully charged without natural sunlight.
As the era of the Internet of Things develops, with statistics showing that there will be at least 1 trillion devices connected to the cloud by 2035, Micro Mote computers are believed to be the key to retaining more information on specific devices. Many of these can collect data from their environment but are unable to analyze it. They then transfer this information to the cloud, which means that many of them aren’t very secure or energy efficient. Micro Motes are designed to enhance the sensor capabilities of these devices, while conserving their power.
The team increased the power of the technology by adding to it the ability to run artificial intelligence algorithms, known as deep neutral networks. This was possible by equipping the micro computers with flash memory, which includes an energy efficient charge pump. These advanced computer sensors will then be able to enhance cloud-connected devices with a neural network, enabling them to include voice and facial recognition.
Many different fields are researching ways in which this technology might be beneficial to them. This includes the medical field, as the computer is small enough to be injected into our bodies and smart enough to be programmed. It would then be able to take pictures, read temperatures and record other functions within. The oil industry is also considering using it to detect pockets of oil that can be extracted, saving them time and money on drilling. The development team has also demonstrated where the computer can be employed for everyday tasks, such as finding keys, using its central system.