Tiny laser-printed 'chipsets' are like intelligent grains of sand

Credit: Amy Sullivan/PARC

Teeny tiny chips, dubbed chiplets, have been developed by Xerox at their Palo Alto Research Center. As small as grains of sand, these chiplets nonetheless pack real computing power. Each chiplet can be a microprocessor, a bit of memory or a circuit.

Delivered by laser printer, the chiplets are placed in precise locations and orientations to create a lattice-like, super-thin computer of infinitely customizable shape and configuration. That they are already being printed lends the chiplets very easily to being implemented with next-gen 3D printing technology.

Imagine 3D printed objects with entire computers embedded inside. Smart dresses and toys could be created on a whim. The very nature and shape of computers themselves could evolve into something unfettered by form.

What might the use of such computers be? The possibilities are nearly as limitless as imagination. The New York Times suggests using chiplets to create "a supple, pressure-sensitive skin for a new breed of robot hands" and "smart-sensing medical bandages that could capture health data and then be thrown away." The possibilities are nearly endless.

Needless to say, this new chiplet technology is a little way from perfection. But when this technology hits the mainstream, we here at DVICE are predicting great things.

NYTimes, via Gizmodo

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