Freescale Semiconductor has announced a chip that is so tiny it could provide computing power in the most unlikely of places.
The Kinetis KL02 is the world's smallest ARM-powered chip at just 1.9mm x 2mm, and one possible application is in swallowable computers.
Steve Tateosian, Freescale's Global Product Marketing Manager, revealed: "We are working with our customers and partners on providing technology for their products that can be swallowed but we can't really comment on unannounced products."
Internet of tiny things
Freescale is positioning the KL02 as the perfect chip for Internet of Things applications - embedding tiny, low-power microelectronics that can be embedded into all manner of usually "dumb" objects such as shoes and radiators, or sent into hard-to-reach places (the lower intestine, for instance).
The company already has a foot in the health and medical markets, with its chips used in both the Fitbit activity tracker and OmniPod insulin pump.
Tateosian points out that we're surrounded by embedded microcontrollers. "For example, you may come across them when your alarm wakes you up, you brush your teeth, make your coffee, unlock your car door, open your garage, put down the car window, pay the parking meter, tell the time on your watch, measure your heart rate, distance and pace. While running you may listen to your music player with several controllers inside, including in the ear buds themselves."
However, none of them are quite as small as the KL02 which, although on general sale, was designed for a customer who specifically needed a chip smaller than 3mm on a side. We wonder what it was for?
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