Smart dust: Computers as small as a grain of sand

PowderSmartphones have shown that complex computing can be done on a very small scale but the next generation of computing will see devices shrinking even more dramatically. What is known as smart dust in computing parlance, these nano computers will be used to monitor and control infrastructure such as bridges and buildings and could even be implanted into the human body to monitor biological functions (not too dissimilar from the concept of nanorobots as discussed by Sharp Laboratories’ of Europe scientists).

At Michigan University they have recently created prototypes of these miniature computers which they are calling Michigan Micro Motes. Professor Prabal Dutta tells Humans Invent, “We take things that are on traditional computers like the processor, the ability to store data, the ability to communicate and the ability to sense the environment and you really just miniaturise them.”

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