We've seen computers transform from big and bulky room-sized components to the thinner and lighter tablet-like devices.
But, surpassing the established sizes for a computer, University of Michigan researchers have developed a fully autonomous computer that is smaller than a grain of rice.
At just a millimetre cubed, the Michigan Micro Mote (M^3) is believed to be the smallest autonomous computer in the world.
The faculty and students at the university have been working on the computer for over a decade. Don't be misled by its size because the M^3 is capable of taking pictures, read temperatures, and record pressure readings.
It could be further used for a variety of medical or industrial purposes. A report notes that due to its micro-size, the M^3 can be injected into the body, where it can then perform ECGs and also take pressure and temperature readings.
The oil industry is also interested in inserting the Micro Mote into oil wells to help detect pockets of oil that can still be extracted before moving on to new sources.
The vision of the Michigan researchers is that people would buy a couple of M^3s and stick them to their keys, wallets, and anything else that they don't want to lose and monitor them through a central tracking system.
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As there is no space for a keyboard, mouse or display, the M^3 is programmed and charged via light. By strobing light at a high frequency, the operator is able to send information to the computer.
Once the Micro Mote processes the data, it is able to send the information to a central computer via conventional radio frequencies.
The M^3 is ready for production now, and the faculty and staff are already looking forward to creating even smaller computers, which they call smart dust.