World’s smallest computer is smaller than a grain of rice, powered by light

Gone are the days when computers were large, bulky pieces of machinery. Meet the Michigan Micro Mote, which has been deemed the world’s smallest computer.

At a time when computers are seemingly shrinking, the Michigan Micro Mote has taken the trend to a new level. To give you an idea of its size, the M^3 computer can fit seamlessly along the edge of a nickel. Its volume is about one millimeter cubed.

David Blaauw, computer science and engineering professor at the University of Michigan, worked with five students to create the device. Blaauw and his team were able to achieve the small size by taking the computer’s battery into consideration. By reducing the amount of power that it needed to work, they were able to minimize the battery and overall size of the computer.

The product has been under development for a decade. Because it does not use devices like a keyboard or a mouse, the developers were faced with the challenge of finding a new way for the computer to communicate. The M^3 was eventually designed to be programmed and charged with light.

When its operator strobes light at a high frequency, it can send information to the Micro Mote. Then, it can process the data and send it to a different computer through radio frequencies. The Phoenix processor inside of the compute requires just 500 pico-watts in standby mode, and it can charge its battery in a room with no natural sunlight.

Medical professionals are among the people who are already interested in the tiny computer, which is small enough to be injected in the body. The computer can take pictures, read temperatures and record pressure readings, which could provide benefit to the healthcare industry. However, the oil industry is also interested in the M^3. The idea would be to use the computer to detect pockets of oil that could be extracted before moving onto a new site.

As for the Michigan team, they think that the M^3 could prevent people from losing items, such as keys or wallets. The computers could be adhered to items that may get lost, and its central system could help users find items around the house.

Needless to say, tiny computers are in big demand these days. Both Google and Intel recently announced the development of computers-on-a-stick – devices meant to connect to televisions and monitors and temporarily turn them into working computers. However, the Chromebit and Intel Compute Stick aren’t necessarily garnering attention from the healthcare or oil industries. The M^3 is in an entirely different league of small, and proves that there’s still room for the tiny computer concept to grow.

Product Review

The Suunto 9 multisport watch has the stamina to outlast even you

The Suunto 9 offers an astounding 120 hours of continuous tracking thanks to its intelligent battery modes and FusedTrack "GPS without GPS" tracking. We put the Suunto 9 through its paces to find out how well these features work.
Cars

Stop the madness! Here's how to fix those squeaky brakes

Few noises are worse than the sound of squeaky brakes. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to go about fixing the issue without giving up your weekend or investing a small fortune. Here's what you need to know.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Deals

The best laptop deals for September 2018

Whether you're getting ready for a new school year, shopping for a special student, or just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going, from discounted MacBooks to an on-the-go gaming PC.
Virtual Reality

Walmart stocks its stores with VR training for its employees

Walmart will begin rolling out virtual reality training experiences to all of its stores this year with the power of Oculus Go. More than 6,300 stores will receive the new technology, helping the company train its employees.
Computing

Tap Strap wearable keyboard gains support for VR applications

TAP System's wearable keyboard gains support for virtual reality, now compatible with Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and HTV headsets. Type and tap for up to eight hours in VR without needing to look at a physical keyboard.
Product Review

The powerhouse Alienware 17 R5 will leave your desktop in the dust

With a 17-inch display and a chassis weighing in at nearly 10 pounds, the Alienware 17 R5 is truly massive. Between its weight and its hardware, it’s certainly outfitted like a gaming desktop so let’s find out if it performs like one.
Computing

Wi-Fi vulnerability could allow attackers to steal your data on unencrypted sites

A 20-year-old security flaw in the design of the Wi-Fi standard and how computers communicate using the transmission control protocol could allow hackers to perform a web cache poisoning attack to steal your data and login information.
Deals

Walmart takes $380 off the MacBook Air for a limited time

Walmart is offering a steep discount on the MacBook Air. Though the $380 discount is lovely, this offer comes with an extra charger to sweeten the deal. If you're looking to pick up an Apple MacBook for less, now is an excellent time.
Computing

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.
Computing

Documentation shows data recovery possible for Macs with T2 coprocessor

New documentation from Apple shows that data recovery is indeed possible for Macs with T2 Coprocessor thanks to internal diagnostics software, giving users of the 2018 MacBook Pro new hope in the event of a system failure.
Computing

Smart Reply not smart enough? Desktop Gmail users can soon opt out

Google will soon give desktop Gmail users the ability to opt out of Smart Reply. If you'd prefer to compose a short email the old-fashioned way, you can do so without seeing the auto-generated suggestions in the future.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with 12 of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Product Review

The HP Chromebook x2 takes Chrome to the next level

HP’s Chromebook x2 acts a lot like Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, with a well-equipped tablet that plugs into a keyboard base that’s heavy enough to keep the combination mostly stable. Is this premium Chromebook the best one you can buy?