Computing is about to really become ubiquitous if a research project started at Edinburgh University delivers its promises. In "A spray-on computer is way to do IT, the Edinburgh Evening News writes that "spray-on computers the size of a grain of sand are set to transform information technology."
Scientists at the institution have just been awarded a £1.3 million grant to develop the "ubiquitous computing" technology which uses tiny semiconductor specks that can sense, compute and communicate without wires.
Researchers are already working with staff at Edinburgh hospitals to develop a method of using the computers to monitor heart patients at home.
They plan to spray the nanocomputers on to the chests of coronary patients, where the tiny cells would record a patientís health and transmit information back to a hospital computer.
And this isn't the only application envisioned by the scientists. Professor Arvid, who leads the project, thinks our current computer interfaces, typically a keyboard or a mouse, will completely be replaced by these nanocomputers.
Arvid said: "In the future, computers will be able to be diffused into the environment. There wonít be a sharp division -- barricades will just disappear into the background.
"One way to achieve that will be computers the size of a grain of sand. Just by spraying them on to objects, you can computerise them. They would create a network which can transmit wirelessly to each other.
"In a cubic millimetre, you can have a sensor for heat, pressure, light and so on, but also a computer and wireless technology."
And when will see these nanocomputers? Sooner that you think. According to Arvid, the technology should be ready within four years.
And these spray-on nanocomputers should be at work in hospitals, schools and shops in less than ten years.
Source: Fiona MacGregor, Edinburgh Evening News, August 14, 2003
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