Chips with Everything - Episode 2

Tuesday 30th December at 7:15pm on five

In the second of this year’s Christmas lectures, Professor Chris Bishop examines the ways in which the microchip is having an increasing impact on how people conduct their everyday lives. To demonstrate just how far computers have come, the professor showcases some of the latest technologies that are poised to enhance modern life in the future.

Computers now outnumber people throughout the world. But less than one per cent of these machines take the form of desktop or laptop computers. As microchips get smaller and faster, they are being built into a huge range of objects and devices, including such everyday items as washing machines, toys and even clothing. People interact with dozens if not hundreds of computers on a daily basis, often without even realising it. But very few of these have mice and keyboards. As computers become more widespread, new ways of communicating with them are needed.

In this lecture, Professor Bishop reveals state-of-the-art advancements in computer interaction, including new touch-screen technology. Surface computing allows people to manipulate documents just as they would pieces of paper on a table. Users are able to perform a host of functions, including organising and resizing photos, poring over maps and making selections from takeaway menus. The interface is capable of processing the requests of multiple users. Professor Bishop also demonstrates 3-D displays and flexible screens that can be rolled up when they are not being used.

However, it is not just displays that are being revolutionised. As the number of computers grows, their power will be further exploited via networking –both with each other and the internet. In the future, the traditional shopping list looks set to become a thing of the past as microchips may be included in the packaging of consumables. When a pint of milk expires or pantry supplies are running low, a shopper will receive a text message or email informing them that they need to top up on certain items.

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