Just this March, IBM awed everyone when they presented the world’s smallest computer, a grain of salt-sized chip measuring just 1 square millimeter. Now, engineers at the University of Michigan took it even further, presenting a chip so small it can fit on the tip of a grain of rice.
However, while IBM’s incredibly tiny computer will be used in their blockchain project and could help tackle the problem of counterfeit goods of all kinds, David Blaauw from the University of Michigan points out that researchers still can’t agree if these tiny chips are actually computers. The problem is that the microdevices lose their programming and data as soon as their power is out, which could cast doubt over their “computer” classification.
“We are not sure if they should be called computers or not. It’s more of a matter of opinion whether they have the minimum functionality required,” he said.
For what exactly can they be used? Researchers hope that the world’s smallest computers could help cancer research, glaucoma diagnosis, oil reservoir monitoring and, of course, surveillance.