There was a buzz of excitement in the tech community this week as IBM revealed the world’s smallest computer at the company’s flagship conference, Think 2018, in Las Vegas. While being no bigger than a grain of salt, the computer has a surprising computing power equivalent to that of a full-sized CPU from 1990, besides also being affordable–costing less than ten cents to manufacture.
World’s Smallest Computer – Big Possibilities
The world’s smallest computer was constructed to be used in tandem with blockchain technology. According to IBM, the tiny device packs a several hundred thousand transistors and will be embedded into everyday devices for the purpose of monitoring, analyzing, communicating and even responding to data.
This computer is part of IBM’s innovative research into combating fraud within the supply chain. The tiny computer is just one device out of IBM’s various “crypto-anchors”. These crypto-anchors are tamper-proof digital fingerprints that come in other forms such as optical codes or magnetic ink. They are meant to be embedded within products to track and trace the authenticity of goods, from drugs to diamonds.
The Necessity of Transparency
IBM’s new technology is introduced into an increasingly competitive market for supply chain security. Global supply chains are large and complex beasts that are hard to monitor and are vulnerable to manipulation at any stage of the process. This opens doors for the tampering of products, deregulation, and counterfeiting. Product fraud is thus rampant and is costing the global economy a loss of over $600 billion annually.
The appeal of the blockchain for supply chains lie within the transparency and traceability the shared ledger and immutable records offer. As our world currently survives on global supply chain processes, blockchain technology offers benefits of greater scalability, increased security and an open operating system in which time delays, added costs, counterfeiting and human error can be reduced. IBM’s approach, however, is unique in the sense that the world’s smallest computer, along with their other crypto-anchors, is bringing blockchain from abstract platforms out into the physical realm.
Prototypes of the device are currently being tested by IBM. While there is still much research to be done in the development of these crypto-anchors, IBM claims that they will be ready to transform our lives within the next five years.
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Image/Video Credits: CNet, IBM Research (Youtube)
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