Saturday, December 31, 2011
The computers that I use on a daily basis are made of, effectively, sand and copper. Every computer, every electronic thing I have ever used, or touched, has followed this pattern. The one non-traditional computer I have seen to date was a pure electronic relay computer, which used electrical switches with no silicon. The reason this pattern is not used is that it's inefficient, impossibly loud, slow, and expensive. And then there's today's strange technology: Via Slashdot, an international team of scientists have made circuits out of, surprisingly, yarn wires. The yarn is threaded with electrical conducting materials, such as copper, and woven into various electrical switches. Additional yarn can be added to weave the item into a piece of clothing, thereby achieving the long time goal of wearable computers, in this case, computers that are literally clothing. There are some minor downsides to the current state of technology. No, it won't shock or electrocute you, but it's currently at the inefficient, impractical, slow, and expensive state that the relay computer that I linked at the begining of this article. Much R&D is required before you'll be able to, say, use a sweater as a GPS unit, a sock to monitor your vital signs, or anything of the other wondrous potential of these technologies. Technology sometimes has to crawl before it can walk, and walk before it can run.