In the interest of further understanding the technologies that I believe are up and coming I thought I would put together a page of where I think things are now. Considering how I believe nanotech will turn everything thing on it's head it's only fair to look for other disruptive technologies that must evolve first or may evolve at the same time.
Icon 26 got me thinking. How do you separate the many stages of nanotechnology? What will nanotech's eras be? A lot of that depends if we leverage mechanisms in existing biological systems (top down) or build things from scratch (bottom up). I assumed that some biological structures where copied but needed to be carefully built in a bottom up approach. This assumption is based on the often overlooked but major advantage of more normal scale mechanical structures, predictability.
Cheap light-weight durable computers
One of the technologies that was understood and used by the technically minded characters are cheap, long lasting, durable, portable computers. I made a few assumptions about portable computing technology that in my opinion would coincide with or have happened prior the successful design of the first autonomous nanite.
- I largely assume that chip speed improvements completely fail. Since circuits are either pressed, poured or imaged many atoms at a time onto a surface, that the shrinking circuit demands that new techniques need to be developed to build smaller faster chips. I also assume that those techniques are at least a slightly larger hurdle to overcome, slowing improvements to a halt. The only way to sell chips is by redesigning and repackaging them as portable.
- I assume that nearly atomically perfect nanomaterials precede any nanites. And that those nanomaterials lead to the continued evolution of more efficient batteries and translucent paper thin displays that can be sold with translucent glue on one side as display stickers. Such a technology, if non-proprietary enough to be portable and disposable would mean people would affix LCD style displays on almost every surface.
- I assume that partially as a reaction to stalled chip development that bus speeds continue to improve and buses continue shrink physically. This allows for large amounts of data to be sent some distance to and from the 'display stickers.'
- Atomically perfect "poles" in batteries with super high surface areas allow for many liquids to be used as an "electrolyte." And that some battery chassis are reusable.
- Non-prescription glasses sporting individually controlled transparent thin film displays and small simple cameras can be built or bought with high speed buses for cheap.
- At least some of these wearable computers would have open source or at least Internet collaboration on apis and code to accelerate tweaks and tricks to use them in unintended ways.
After some review, the Nokia 770 seemed to have the most promise on the precompiled software front. That combined with generally good reviews, and a price that was cheap enough not to make accidents tragic.
- Transparent LCD stickers are out of reach. The only readily available low budget glasses are non transparent and 2d.
- USB 2.0 bus speeds are already capable of low end video in and out already. But internal bus and CPU speeds on the less expensive units are not up to the task, yet.
- Some tablets out now have at least some of the attributes of
- long battery life.
- cheap price.
- configurable Internet collaborative(Open Source) OS
- high speed bus (USB2)
- small size
I put together a couple of different rigs to try to get the usefulness of a desktop out of a tablet. With no HUD or clarks to fool with I had to try to cope with the disadvantage of the tiny screen size. Since it's an LCD and lightweight I thought perhaps moving the whole unit near my eyes might do the trick. This worked out better than I expected. There are three distinct advantages to using appropriately sized LCD a few inches from your face.
I'm not sure I would realized these benefits of future computing without buying and experimenting with the 770. The last two directly apply to the arm strap PCs and clarks. Expect to see it come up at least briefly in the next book.
- A new mouse interface for the handicapped - With the tablet in front of your face it is not only feasible to select things on the touch screen with the stylus in your mouth but fairly easy. This might provide a dirt cheap way for someone with limited arm mobility to cruise the net with cheap equipment.
- Visual improvement for the nearsighted - Due partially to the clarity of the screen on this unit, some nearsighted people can simply take their glasses off at this proximity.
- Security and privacy - Last but not least. Good luck shoulder surfing a 770 with one of these stands. Not impossible, most definitely more difficult.
Automatic local Internet copy-Updated 5/08
My next project is to see if I can set up a caching proxy that you can browse offline, but that periodically attempts to connect to Internet and download the newest version of particular sites on it's own. Is it possible to set up some sort of anticipitory caching and use the results in a nearly transparant way.
So it looks like this actually happened. Sombody ported httrack to the n800/n810, which does exactly this. Awsome!
Who has incentive to develop nanotech.
2/09 - So it looks like Moore's law as an experation date. 2016. That's why I set this book smack in the middle of our economic winter. (Originally I was thinking 2012 but the law has slowed a bit since 1999.) I did the math, but didn't set a date due to Gordon Moore himself poo pooing his own law many years ago. But it's still holding! At least when measured in circut size. Right now, based on Intel's announcements, it's looking like...
... The thing to remember here is they depend on energy projection wavelength right now to guide the materials when etching the chips. No energy has a narrow enough wavelenth at that scale to make any sense. The chip companies begin design 2-4 years before they actually expect to sell a product. That means they either start working on technologies that can place small groups of atoms at a time (nanotech) or they plan their own death only two years from now! 2011!
- 2004 - 90nm
- 2006 - 65nm
- 2008 - 45nm
- 2009 - 32nm (Intel projection)
- 2011 - 22nm (Intel projection)
- 2013 - 15nm General EE speculation
- 2015 - 8 nm?? Even if this is accomplished. It will be the last conventional manufacturing size possible.
Unfortunately a smaller window just makes the next book harder to write. :) DOH!