Thursday, February 26, 2009

Paint It Bend It Spray It On - The Electronics Revolution

A few years ago I remember reading about paintable, bendable electronics online.  The article had a wistful, "wouldn't it be great if . . . ?" tone, and mentioned some "promising research" being done.  Then a year ago flat flexible OLED displays were "imminent."  In all these cases, the timeline was a few years into our future.  And yet, here's the payoff:
Is it just me or are there possibilities here?  Let's look at some implications for this technology:

It will be possible to pretty much put it anywhere.  That includes your cutlery and crockery, a flat slab of styrofoam painted to look like a book, shopping bags, windows, the roof of your electric vehicle...

It'll very rapidly become cheap.  That means you will find it on your shopping bags, your cutlery and crockery, and made into a lightweight e-book reader, as well as allowing your EV to "graze" on sunlight wherever you park it.

Once people see it in use, they will think of more uses for it.  I'm pretty pedestrian in my predictions, I can see a time when it will even be on pills and medications you take, to target the drugs to the right places, and measure the effect the drugs are having and adjust the dosage on the fly.  It will probably also be on your money (credit, debit, whatever) cards, furniture, and walls.

When electronics becomes this common and this invisible, and connectivity and intelligence can be built in, you're onto something that will change the world more than the Internet has.  Combine this with something like the Phantom OS currently developed in Russia (and the resultant programming upheaval it will create) and you have a seriously BIG change in technology and how we and it interact.

On the subject of Phantom - (here is what seems to be their homepage, by the way) there are some programmers who will know this kind of "run in place" style of operating system like the backs of their hands - all the programmers who made programs for the Tandy M100 and Tandy M200 "laptop" computers of the '80's.  Because they used a very similar way of operating - files and programs were written to nonvolatile memory and switching on and off just meant stopping in mid-read or whatever, and then restarting at that same point as though nothing had happened.

So devices using Phantom technology will start up instantly and carry on doing whatever they were doing when the power went off.  Seems to be a boon for solar controllers and low-power monitoring and remote control devices to me.  And of course for advertising signs that could steal the power of your mobile phone transmission to light themselves up only when there was someone with a cellphone nearby, or - hell, I'm sure you can see millions of uses for this technology...

As I used to say for my BBS, TEdLIVISION: "-- don't touch that dial!!!" - there are a whole load of new and interesting applications of this technology coming to a common item near you, and probably sooner than you think!

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