Talked about In Technology – 2008

Picture of SearchMe Stack with videos of multitouch technology.

In a December 23 article, Technology Review writer, Kate Greene described three technologies that have received special attention this past year.  The first, I find interesting today, because of mention that Greene makes of a  do-it-yourself (DIY) spirit that has emerged around it.  Most of us were introduced to multitouch through our iPhones.  But the real potentials were illustrated by Microsoft’s Surface device, and the slew of videos that popped up on YouTube demonstrating the technology.  Here is a SearchMe stack of other MT videos.

There’s little that is really new about multitouch technology, except that it has become cheaper.  Nordt, a research studio (I like that term) in New York, now offers a product called TouchKit.  With this $1,000 kit, anyone can make and modify their own touch-screen table.  In a referenced article, Greene writes about Addie Wagenknecht [Eyebeam Profile, Wikipedia Article] and Eyebeam’s project called Cubit.  She and Stefan Hechenberger wanted to illustrate how anyone could build a multitouch table with a few simple items — for $500 to $1,000.  Here is a video demo of Cubit.

Image from [link]

Computer memory has also taken some interesting twists during the past year, especially with the appearance of the “popping up all over technology conferences” netbooks, many of which utilize flash memory for long term storage, rather than hard disks.  Greene talks about some advances that were talked about this year, and will likely starter emerging as early as 2009.  The first was phase-change memory, “..which stores data by altering the crystal structure of a material (rather than using the charge within transistors)..”  Samsung and Swiss startup, Numonyx, have already started sending test samples to gadget makers.

It seems that information devices might be getting even smaller.  Makes my head hurt!

Microprocessors are also seeing advances, partly stemming from our new love affair with anything green.  The most notable development is Intel’s Atom processor, a low energing chip that is appear in small notebook (netbook) computers and some handhelds.

But to take things even smaller, researchers at the university of Michigan have designed a chip for small sensor applications.  It uses 30 picowatts (one million millionths [10-12] of a watt) (( “Picowatt.” Wictionary. 2006.Wikimedia. 29 Dec 2008 <http://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=picowatt&oldid=1917664>.)) of power while idling, and only 2.8 picojoules (one million millionths [10-12] of a joule) (( “Picojoule.” Wiktionary. 2007. Wikimedia. 29 Dec 2008 <http://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=picojoule&oldid=4539693>.)) per computing cycle.  Probably means no more to you than it does to me.  But the thing could be powered by a battery no bigger than it is.

Read more about wireless advances, and mobile mania at The Year in Computing from Technology Review.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.