The World’s Smallest Computer Wants To Be Inside Of You

The World’s Smallest Computer Wants To Be Inside Of You

With computer technology forever striving towards smaller and smaller form factors, it was only a matter of time before engineers created the first millimetre-scale computer system, ready for implantation in the human body.

Created by University of Michigan Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professors Dennis Sylvester and David Blaauw, the tiny computer system measures in a just over one cubic millimetre. Within that cubic millimetre they’ve packed an ultra-low-power microprocessor, a pressure sensor, memory, a thin-film battery, a solar cell and a wireless radio complete with antenna. The radio will be used to broadcast data to an external unit held near the user’s eye.

Did I mention this computer is for implanting inside the eye?

Sylvester and Blaauw have created the miniscule system with eyes in mind. The low powered system will wake every 15 minutes to read internal eye data in order to track the progress of glaucoma, a disease that often leads to blindness. On average the system consumes only 5.3 nanowatts, and keeping the system charged requires 10 hours of indoor light or one-and-a-half hours of sunlight per day. The technology is expected to be available commercially within the next few years.

Charting glaucoma is just one of many medical applications these new miniature computing systems could be applied to.

“This is the first true millimeter-scale complete computing system,” Sylvester said.

“Our work is unique in the sense that we’re thinking about complete systems in which all the components are low-power and fit on the chip. We can collect data, store it and transmit it. The applications for systems of this size are endless.”

Coupled with new millimetre-scale wireless radio technology created by professor David Wentzloff and doctoral student Kuo-Ken Huang, also of the University of Michigan, there’s no reason why humans couldn’t implant an entire network of tiny computers throughout their bodies, all communicating with one another, working together towards some common goal.

What common goal? I’m thinking superpowers. A man can dream.

Toward Computers That Fit on a Pen Tip: New Technologies Usher in the Millimeter-Scale Computing Era [Science Daily]


  • Where do you plug in the mouse?
    (seriously awesome really, its incredible to think we’re not that really that much further along than apes and look what we can do already, what does the next 10,000 years hold??)

  • Technomancy here we come! Instead of batteries though, I’d like to see them draw the power from the body somehow. What’s that, your fps is lagging behind? Go eat somethin’! 😛

  • Drawing power from the body would be the most logical thing. If it really uses next to no power, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

    In any case, I wouldn’t doubt it if things like this weren’t around before anyway. Increase the range on the transmitter, and you’ve got yourself a nice little bug to plant on some unsuspecting person. Something that small would most likely go unnoticed quite easily.

  • Wouldn’t it be a better idea for it to draw more power? The more power, the more the body needs to produce and store less as fat.

    Yes, it’s an simplification of what is probably a complex and intertwined network of bodily functions which wouldn’t handle the extra drain in blah blah blah….. But i’m lazy and really dislike exercising so having a few devices that are drawing out excess stored energy, i’d be happy….. and thin…. and not having to exercise…..

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