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A whole new way of thinking about automation...
A colleague sent me an article recently that made me really start to think about how the automation world changes life in ways we can't anticipate and don't expect. Most of you are probably familiar with
, which states that the data density (often generalized to computer capacity) doubles every 18 months.
article out of MIT's Technology Review
indicated is that
is going through a similar process in which the power consumption required to perform an arbitrary sequence of computer commands is dropping (or, to put it in the reverse, the number of commands that can be performed per kilowatt-hour [kWh] is increasing).
The article includes a graphic depiction of the number of commands that can be performed per kWh starting with the Eniac computer in the mid 1940's (<1000 cmd/kWh) to the laptops of 2009 (> 10
cmd /kWh). You really should read the article. I was fascinated to learn, for example, that the Commodore 64, widely regarded as a toy by many, had about the same processing power as the first Cray supercomputer built less than 10 years before.
What really caught my attention, however, was that researchers have already designed sensor systems that can harvest 'stray' energy (television radiation, ambient light, etc.) and use it as their sole source of power to transmit information to a receiving system. So it's not too early to start thinking about what kinds of systems we might design for pharmacies around small, self-contained subsystems of sensors that could operate indefinitely without being attached to the wall for power. This '
' could transform our awareness of our world, including truly transportable patient monitoring devices, cheap sensors in our disposables that broadcast where they were used and what they encountered during use, completely self-managing refrigeration systems, the list goes on...
Now, to be honest, this trend does not account for the power consumption needed for data transmission, which may not be reducing at the same rate as general power consumption. Nonetheless, the notion that what this article describes as "an internet of things" all of which are collecting and publishing their view of the world creates the possibility that a huge fund of exquisitely detailed data could significantly inform our world, and certainly our practice.
What do you think?
Wed, Apr 11, 2012 01:44 PM
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