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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

As computing and AI processing gets moved to the edge of the network and into billions of IOT devices computers will have to get ever smaller.

 

Researchers at the University of Michigan have created the world’s smallest computer, again, after their previous micro-computers, called Micromotes, that were just 2 by 2 by 4mm in size, that were powered by solar cell batteries, were bested by IBM who built an even smaller micro-computer called a Crypto Anchor in March that measured just an incredible 1 by 1mm in size, and was smaller than a grain of salt.

 

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Needless to say the development raised a few eyebrows at the university who felt they had to fire back and up the ante. After all, it’s unclear if the IBM computer even count as an actual micro-computer. The IBM device lost all its programming and data as soon as it turns off, unlike the Michigan Micromote, which retained its programming even when it wasn’t externally powered.

 

 

“It’s more of a matter of opinion whether they have the minimum functionality required,” said David Blaauw, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university who helped engineer the new micro-computer that is now just a tenth of the size of IBM’s at a tiny 0.3 by 0.3 by 0.3mm in size, which makes even the grain of rice sitting by it in the photo look like some giant comedy prop. The device was designed to be a precision temperature sensor that can report temperatures in clusters of cells with an error of about 0.1 degrees Celsius.

 

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“When we first made our new micromote system, we actually didn’t know exactly all the things it would be useful for. But once we published it, we started receiving dozens and dozens and dozens of inquiries,” Blaauw said. “It could, for instance, measure the temperature of tumours and conduct other cancer studies, monitor oil reservoirs, conduct audio or visual surveillance, or even help in ‘tiny snail studies’.”

Source: University of Michigan

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Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, award winning Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute, a global futures think tank working between the dates of 2020 and 2070, is described as "The Adviser behind the Advisers." Regularly featured on AP, CNBC, Discovery and RT, his ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past five years as one of the world's foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive future. A rare talent Matthew sits on the Technology and Innovation Committee (TIAC) for Centrica, Europe’s largest utility company, and his recent work includes mentoring XPrize teams, building the first generation of biocomputers and re-inventing global education, and helping the world’s largest manufacturers envision, design and build the next 20 years of devices, smartphones and intelligent machines. Matthew's clients are the who’s who of industry and include Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, BOA, Blackrock, Bentley, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, Du Pont, E&Y, HPE, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, UBS, the USAF and many others.

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