techbytes by ivan poupyrev

How can we Become a Computer

What comes to your mind when you think about computers? For most of the people out there, a computer is an electronic device with a screen. Whether it is a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. The perception of a computer is often associated with a screen acting as the interface. But is the future of computers bound to screens? Ivan Poupyrev denies this in a TED event. 

 

According to his vision, the things we use in our daily lives convey many things associated with us. Not only that, since they are used by us extensively, we can use them as an interface to connect with the digital world. Everything can be customized for every individual, which can act as a computer.

 

The best example can be that of a plant. It is scientifically proven that elements flow away from the plant surface where it is being touched. This acts as a natural sensor, from where came the idea of using other things as an interface. 

 

Simple things such as doorknobs, tables, and pens can be equipped with electronic sensors and embedded into a complex computer. Everything can be ‘hacked’ in a manner to use it for different purposes. It is indeed a very innovative approach mentioned by Poupyrev in the TED talk to use mundane things and integrate them with technology.

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How can it be done?

When we talk about computers in general, they need instructions to function, and some data to operate upon. Both of these can easily be obtained by analyzing the way we move and touch things. For example, even the simplest gestures like clapping your hands can act as an instruction to a task, let’s say, turning a light on and off. 

 

Furthermore,  there are many more ‘other’ products than there are mobile phones and gadgets. For instance, the annual production of 150 billion garments easily overshadows 1.4 billion phones. It means that we can maximize the reach of computers if, somehow, we become successful in innovating a new method of human-computer interaction. 

 

The rate with which nanotechnology is growing; it seems plausible to make such clothing and accessories, which will help us to make phone calls, control speaker values, regulate thermostat temperature, etc.

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How is it different from IoT?

It should not be confused with the internet of things. IoT devices are made explicitly for remotely controlling your home and automating other things. Whereas, the basic principle behind this concept is to integrate human-computer interaction to those objects which we use daily. 

 

It is just an advancement in technology aimed to reduce human efforts and make things easy. Such a computer can be deployed on the cloud so that the basic structure of the whole system remains uniform. The only challenge is to create a small gadget, which can connect the chosen object and the cloud. 

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Feasibility

Poupyrev has already developed this technology. It is a small device, which can be plugged with objects and materials such that they start to act as sensors. Because of its small size, it is easy to carry and lightweight. In addition to that, this product is scalable and has a promising future because the silicon industry is bound to progress even further in this decade.

 

The abstract idea of using ordinary things like sunglasses and clothing as a computer, which was used in sci-fi movies, is on the verge of becoming a reality. Developments in the field of nanotechnology and human-computer interaction will result in the development of a ‘screenless’ and omnipresent computer. We are about to step into a world where everything around us can become a computer.