Let's get small, real small, and then we can go anywhere! No, I'm not advocating we shrink ourselves, but rather discussing dramatic changes coming now that computers can be tiny and inexpensive. Recent movement in conservative, and previously very scarce venture capital investments (in two notable areas) suggests a brave new world of inexpensive, ubiquitous computing could be approaching.
What's ubiquitous computing and who cares about nanotech? These are areas gaining that precious VC funding now. When I tried to discuss them with my wife she was NOT interested, so naturally I assumed that most folks would feel same. But I'm fascinated, I gotta discuss this with someone! Hang on and let's go for a tiny ride.
Imagine a tube so small that it's 100,000 times smaller round than a human hair, so small that atoms must pass through them in single file! These tiny tubes are new building blocks of miniature computing. I won't attempt a description here as I'm still a little foggy on idea myself. Suffice it to say that smart folks are working on building extremely powerful computers that can also be cheap, efficient and everywhere using carbon nanotubes.
Current chips are called embedded microprocessors. They come in your watch, your TV remote, kitchen appliances and your garage door opener. It has been estimated that average American home boasts 50 microprocessors. Your PC has about ten more! The mouse, keyboard, speakers, USB interface, etc. each have additional microprocessors. If you are lucky enough to drive a new Mercedes, you have 65 microprocessors parked right there in your driveway!
About this time, my wife is muttering, "So What!?"
O.K., I did propose a short and tiny ride, so let's take a left turn now look at what it means if commercially viable (cheap) nanocomputers become available soon.
First and foremost, small and cheap mean computers'll be inside everything you buy. They'll put them everywhere they're currently found, such as your cell phone and PDA. But where it gets really interesting is when it becomes cheap enough to embed little critters in items that don't currently need computing power. Why? Because they can! If you want low-down on these tiny 'puters, go to following link for a microscopic trip through this miniature world.
Venture Capital investments are being made not only by VC groups who recognize dramatic potential of tiny technology, but a VC firm called Ardesta has been formed to act as a nanotech "accelerator". http://Ardesta.com Ardesta has built a cheerleading squad around what they prefer to call "Small Tech", an industry growing smaller by focusing their microscope on MEMS, or microelectro- mechanical systems.