The next computer tech wave


Have you ever imagined a world without a mobile phone, Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram? That is exactly what it was in 1992 here in Malawi. Do you recall those phone booths where we dialed 0 and asked the lady on the other side to put us on reverse call?

These stories bear witness that technology engaged an overdrive gear and catapulted as this far within two and half decades. Overwhelmed with velocity of such technological innovation, one may be tempted to ask; where do we go from here?

IBM made an announcement during the week that it had developed a prototype of the smallest computer ever. The IBM’s System-on-Chip (SoC) is smaller than a grain of salt; 1 millimeter by 1 millimeter to be exact. A system-on-chip is as the name suggests; the entire computer system on a computer chip. In English, this is a computer with processor, memory, storage and a communication module all bundled together into a tiny space.


To put it into prospective, that is the entire iPhone X shrunk into a grain of salt. Now, that begs the question: is that tiny computer as powerful as today’s computers? They are not. Actually they are only as powerful as the computers of the 1990s. So, if they are as slow, probably running at 25 MHz, when today’s computers cruise at speeds 100 times faster, where is the deal? The secret is that these tiny computers can be bundled together in a technology called blockchain.

The attraction in the tiny computers is not the power but the size. Because they are miniature, they can easily be embedded into almost anything. The other allure is the small cost of manufacturer for these minuscule computers. According to IBM, the microscopic computers could cost merely 10 cents per unit to manufacture.

Embedded technology is undoubtedly the next wave of computer technology. These petite computers will, in the near future, be implanted into products so as to verify authenticity. This will be very useful to wipe out the market for counterfeit products not only in technology but even in fashion products.


The other area where the microscopic computers will be a game-changer is in the sphere of Internet-of- Things (IoT). This is technology which will make home devices like fridges citizens of the Internet revolution. In that day, your fridge will have a computer inserted and will be able to alert you food levels via a WhatsApp message.

With your permission, it will go ahead to make an order for food stuffs to Shoprite and proceed to effect a payment through NBS Mo626 or FDH 525. And without you realising it, your houseboy would have taken delivery from Shoprite’s door-to-door service.

Instead of wearable technology, we are probably going to have smartphones embedded into our thumb. There is a technology out there which uses tattoos to supplement technology.

IBM has hinted that it would be ready to ship these computers the size of a grain of salt in the next six months and further stated that blockchain technology will become widespread in the next five years.

Where do we go from here? There is no way of telling with exactness.

I rest my case.

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