I have written often about small, battery-powered computers that can easily be taken on genealogy research trips and elsewhere. These handheld computers are great for portable uses but I often wonder "How small can a computer be and still be useful?" Researchers at the University of Michigan apparently have succeeded in downsizing even further: their new computer fits on the tip of a pen.
To be sure, this is a special-purpose computer designed for one specific task. It does not contain a keyboard or a video screen. All output is performed by a wireless radio with an antenna that can transmit data to an external reader.
NOTE: Photo by Gyouho Kim. Click on the image to see a larger picture.
The millimeter-scale computing system can hold up to a week's worth of data when implanted in something as small as a human eye. The computer, called the Phoenix chip, is just over one cubic millimeter in size and was designed to monitor eye pressure in glaucoma patients. "This is the first true millimeter-scale complete computing system," said Dennis Sylvester, a professor at the school and one of the researchers on the project. Within the computer is an ultra low-power microprocessor, a pressure sensor, memory, a thin-film battery, a solar cell and a wireless radio.
According to researchers, the micro computers and their wireless networks could one day also be used to track pollution, monitor structural integrity, perform surveillance, or make virtually any object smart and trackable.
You can read more in an article by Lucas Mearian in the ComputerWorld web site at http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9210962/Researchers_create_computer_that_fits_on_a_pen_tip
OK, let's put this on a pen tip. That way, the computer could record every stroke of the pen when I am at library or archives, writing notes. Then I could later transfer those notes to my desktop or laptop computer.