Feb. 28, 2013 at 7:36 PM ET
Freescale Semiconductor, maker of fine computer chips, announced on Thursday the world's smallest ARM-powered chip. The KL02 is about as big as a hat for a bee, but it has everything a real computer needs.
It comprises a processor, 4 kilobytes of RAM, 32 kilobytes of storage and a nice little input/output port — if you look very closely. It may not sound like much compared to the meanest specs on the cheapest laptop or phone these days, but the KL02 isn't meant to stream Netflix or run "Angry Birds."
Chips this small are meant to be embedded in things, and the KL02 is the smallest and most capable one out there. Something like this could live in the heel of your shoe — or in your shoelace, for that matter! Or it could live in an watch, or a pocket knife, or a key; It's also small enough to fit inside a pill.
Yes: While it could empower all manner of day-to-day objects with the ability to report to your phone or computer, perhaps the most interesting application is inside you.
Internal sensors exist already, but this one is smaller and more efficient by far, allowing it to operate more autonomously and on less power. A swallowable pill could keep itself in the stomach and monitor sugar intake for diabetics, or constantly check the liver for harmful buildup — without the need for external power or other electronics.
Where will it show up first? Freescale isn't saying, although the chip was designed to fit the specifications of a mystery customer. Is it a medical research firm — or Nike? Only time will tell, but you can be sure that chips like the KL02 will be showing up more and more often over the next decade.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.