For every massively large technological advancement from Big Data to astronomy telescopes the size of office buildings, there are a handful of innovations that are too small for the human eye to acknowledge; nonetheless, these tiny technologies are shaping the future as we will come to know it. With all this in mind, here are three examples of how small things will be improving our lives very soon:
Move over, silicon processors, carbon nanotube fabrication is here to bring in the new era of personal computing. You know how mini PCs are doing away with legacy tower desktops? The next step consists of turning smartwatches into full desktop computers with wireless connectivity that can stream multimedia data to monitors, keyboards and speakers. Carbon nanotube research is being spearheaded by IBM in the United States; this is keeping up with Moore’s Law, which posits that microprocessors should be getting smaller and more powerful on an exponential basis.
The CubeSat Program
Tiny developing nations such as Costa Rica are jumping into the space race with the help of CubeSats, mini satellites that can be as small as four inches while still being able to pack an array of sensors, processors and transmitters for the purpose of conduct space research. These miniature space instruments can perform a variety of experiments in orbit, and are already being considered for a Mars mission.
Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems
Remember how a few years ago you had to press a combination of keys in your smartphone to switch from the default portrait display to landscape mode? You no longer have to do that because an accelerometer detects the position angles of your mobile device and switches the display orientation accordingly. This is an example of a MEMS device, which are made with tiny printed circuit boards (PCBs) made by companies like Streamline Circuits, who specialize in laser printed circuits, plus some very small mechanical components. Distributed MEMS devices that collect kinetic energy from dance floors and sidewalks are already being used to generate electricity; combined with solar panels and batteries, these devices will be able to power streetlights without connecting them to the grid.
In the end, the three innovations listed herein prove that big things do come in very small packages when technology is involved.