Tech Weekly: Chips Ahoy

Share this post

In the late 1950s, Jack Kilby — an engineer at Texas Instruments who would later dream up the handheld calculator — invented the integrated circuit, or microchip. Since then, true to Moore's Law, we've crammed components onto these chips at an exponential rate, making them smaller and smaller in the process. From an open-source game system the size of a credit card, to a minimalist cell phone the size of a credit card, to an entire computer smaller than a credit card, this week's projects are incredible examples of just how far we've come.

And as always, there are way more modern marvels over in our Technology category.

CHIP - The World's First Nine Dollar Computer

Twenty years ago the specs on a computer you were buying might have looked like this: 100MHz processor, 16MB RAM, and a 1GB hard drive (at least according to this 1995 holiday shopper's guide). Now, a team of very smart people have put a 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB storage onto a computer that fits in your palm. It's called C.H.I.P. Running specs similar to many basic tablets, C.H.I.P is pretty powerful, and it works just like any other computer. Just plug it in and you can get started on the included open-source software. And while the form factor is tiny, the components have only shrunk marginally compared to the price — C.H.I.P. will run you just a cool nine bucks.

Arduboy - Card Sized Gaming

Maybe you'd prefer a pocket computer with an integrated speaker and OLED display. If that's the case, the tiny and handsome Arduboy is for you. What began as a tech demo on YouTube has been given a total makeover for the end user. Arduboy has a built-in 8+ hour lithium polymer battery, six tactile buttons, and a super durable enclosure. Plus, it will fit inside your wallet. The device runs on Arduino software, and it's open source so you're free to develop and share your own 8-bit games. And even if you don't feel like making your own games using the provided online tutorials, you'll have free access to the entire Arduboy game library.

Makey Makey GO: Invent Everywhere, Invent Now!

Back when Makey Makey hit the web in 2012, we were blown away by the device's potential. Still, we couldn't have imagined the wild and creative uses people would find for the device—including turning sushi into a musical instrument. Now the team is back with Makey Makey GO, a streamlined and portable version of their popular anything-machine. Makey Makey GO essentially turns the world into a giant construction kit, allowing you to use anything you can attach an alligator clip to as computer input. Maybe you want to use a donut for your spacebar, or you need a selfie machine that triggers when you high five. Then again, you could just play it safe and stick to the good old fashioned banana piano. With Make Makey GO, your weird ideas are just the beginning.

MyoWare™ | Harness the power of your muscle signals!

Every time you flex a muscle, those muscle cells generate electrical potential. It's possible to measure that electrical signal using electromyography, or EMG. MyoWare is a device that brings EMG to the home tinkerer. Just stick the included adhesive electrodes to your arm, snap MyoWare onto the electrodes, and flex. The MyoWare will analyze the electrical activity, and output an analog signal in accordance with how hard your muscle is being flexed. What do you do with that signal? Well you could use it to light up an LED array, eject some plastic claws, or even control components on a low-cost bionic arm.

The Light Phone

Before "Hello" was adopted as the standard greeting when answering a telephone, Alexander Graham Bell had suggested we use "Ahoy." That was a terrible idea, but we have to give the guy credit for pioneering the minimalist phone. Now, the people behind The Light Phone have taken Bell's idea and updated it for modern times. The Light Phone is an ultra-slim, credit-card-sized device that does nothing but make and receive calls. Actually, there are a few bells and whistles such as call filtering and speed dial, but that's it. Finally, a phone that helps you disconnect.

LightSail: A Revolutionary Solar Sailing Spacecraft

In 1976, Carl Sagan appeared on The Tonight Show to discuss the idea of solar sailing with Johnny Carson. The gist was this: Particles from the sun could be used as propulsion, pushing a spacecraft along just like a sailboat in the wind. Now, the organization that Sagan founded, the Planetary Society, is realizing his dream with Bill Nye at the helm. LightSail is a tiny CubeSat, and in 2016 it will deploy its solar sails and soar around Earth. The mission? To prove just how far the sun can take us, if we're bright enough to let it.

Comments
    1. Dennis Williamson on

      The specs for C.H.I.P. say it has 512MB RAM rather than 256MB.

    2. Michael C. Stewart on

      Good catch Dennis, thanks!

    3. Missing avatar

      Don on

      Also, 1MHz was slow even back then. Your link suggested 100MHz.

    4. Missing avatar

      Namaku Keren on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    5. Missing avatar

      teguhbejo on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    6. Missing avatar

      teguhbejo on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    7. Missing avatar

      Doa Ibu Tersayang on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

Line icon alert icon Artboard Copy 8 arrow-down icon arrow-down arrow-left icon arrow-left arrow-point-left icon Fill 1 Copy 5 arrow-point-right icon Fill 1 arrow-right icon arrow-right arrow-up-right icon icon--arrow-up-right copy bar-chart icon Artboard Copy 6 bell icon Combined Shape Copy 5 book icon Artboard Copy 3 bookmark icon Fill 1 brand-assets icon Artboard Copy 13 cart icon Artboard Copy 4 chat icon chat check icon Fill 1 Copy 6 circle-back icon Fill 1 Copy 13 circle-forward icon Fill 1 Copy 16 circle-k icon circle-k circle-left icon circle-left circle-right icon circle-right clipboard icon Artboard Copy 12 clock icon Combined Shape close icon close closed-caption icon Fill 1 compass icon Combined Shape Copy 2 conversion icon conversion delta-down icon Fill 1 delta-left icon delta-right icon Fill 1 delta-up icon Fill 1 duplicate icon duplicate embed icon Combined Shape Copy 6 eye icon Combined Shape Copy 12 facebook-contained icon Facebook Contained facebook icon Facebook logo flag icon Fill 1 Copy 3 gear icon Fill 1 Copy 14 global-africa icon Fill 1 Copy 9 global-america icon Fill 1 Copy 10 global-asia icon Fill 1 Copy 17 graph-bar icon Combined Shape Copy 9 graph-line icon Combined Shape Copy 16 heart icon Fill 1 Copy 8 help icon human icon icon--human icon--alarm icon icon--alarm icon--alert icon icon--alert icon--arrow-down icon icon--arrow-down icon--arrow-left icon icon--arrow-left icon--arrow-right icon icon--arrow-right icon--arrow-up-right icon icon--arrow-up-right icon--arrow-up icon icon--arrow-up icon--backer-badge icon icon--backer-badge icon--bell icon icon--bell icon--bolt icon icon--bolt icon--bookmark-outline icon icon--bookmark-outline icon--bookmark icon icon--bookmark icon--calculator icon icon--calculator icon--calendar-check icon icon--calendar-check icon--calendar icon icon--calendar icon--campaign-outline icon icon--campaign-outline icon--check icon icon--check icon--chevron-down icon icon--chevron-down icon--chevron-left icon icon--chevron-left icon--chevron-right icon icon--chevron-right icon--chevron-up icon icon--chevron-up icon--circle-around icon icon--circle-around icon--circle-back icon icon--circle-back icon--circle-forward icon icon--circle-forward icon--circle-loader icon Page 1 icon--circle icon icon--clipboard icon icon--clipboard icon--clock icon icon--clock icon--closed-caption icon icon--closed-caption icon--code icon icon--code icon--collapse icon icon--collapse icon--commissions icon icon--commissions icon--compass icon icon--compass icon--confirmation icon icon--confirmation icon--conversion icon icon-conversion icon--cpu icon icon--cross icon icon--cross icon--curve-right icon icon--curve-right icon--delta-down icon icon--delta-down icon--delta-left icon icon--delta-left icon--delta-right icon icon--delta-right icon--delta-up icon icon--delta-up icon--download icon icon--download icon--ellipsis icon icon--expand icon icon--expand icon--external icon icon--external icon--eye icon icon--eye icon--facebook icon icon--facebook icon--filter icon icon--filter icon--flag icon icon--flag icon--frown-filled icon icon--frown icon icon--gear icon icon--gear icon--globe-africa icon icon--globe-africa icon--globe-america icon icon--globe-america icon--globe-asia icon icon--globe-asia icon--graph-bar icon icon--graph-bar icon--graph-line icon icon--graph-line icon--happy-filled icon icon--happy icon icon--heart-outline icon icon--heart outline icon--heart-thin-outline icon Fill 1 icon--heart icon icon--heart icon--home-with-door icon icon--home icon icon--home icon--human icon icon--human icon--humans icon icon--humans icon--image icon icon--image icon--inbox icon icon--inbox icon--info icon icon--info icon--instagram icon icon/instagram icon--lightbulb icon icon--lightbulb icon--link icon icon--link icon--lock-black-bg icon lock-icon icon--lock icon icon--lock icon--mail icon icon--mail icon--meh-filled icon icon--meh icon icon--menu icon icon--menu icon--message icon icon--message icon--mobile icon icon--mobile icon--overflow icon icon--overflow icon--pause icon icon--pause icon--pencil icon icon--pencil icon--pin icon icon--pin icon--pinterest icon icon--pinterest icon--play icon icon--play icon--plus-human icon icon--plus-human icon--plus icon icon--plus icon--prohibit icon icon--prohibit icon--project-budget icon icon--pull-quote icon icon--pull-quote icon--question-filled icon icon--question-filled icon--question icon icon--question icon--reorder icon icon-reorder icon--reply icon icon--reply icon--reward icon icon--save icon icon--save icon--saved icon icon--saved icon--search icon icon--search icon--section-break icon icon--section-break icon--small-k icon icon--sound-hi icon icon--sound-hi icon--sound-lo icon icon--sound-lo icon--sound-mute icon icon--sound-mute icon--star-outline icon Star Outline icon--star icon icon--star icon--subtitles-captions icon icon--subtitles-captions icon--text-bold icon icon--text-bold icon--text-bullet icon icon--text-bullet icon--text-italic icon icon--text-italic icon--textalign-centered icon icon--textalign-centered icon--textalign-right icon icon--textalign-right icon--thumbs-down icon icon--thumbs-down icon--thumbs-up icon icon--thumbs-up icon--thumbsdown-outline icon icon--thumbsdown-outline icon--thumbsup-outline icon icon--thumbsup-outline icon--trash icon icon--trash icon--tumblr icon icon--tumblr icon--twitter icon icon--twitter icon--unlink icon Artboard icon--unlock icon icon--unlock icon--update-freeform-round icon icon--update-freeform-round icon--update-freeform icon icon--update-freeform icon--update-pinned icon Artboard icon--update-qa-round icon icon--update-qa-round icon--update-qa icon icon--update-qa icon--upload icon icon--upload icon--video icon icon--video icon--youtube icon icon--youtube icon-imagealign-center icon icon-imagealign-center icon-imagealign-left icon icon-imagealign-left icon-imagealign-right icon icon-imagealign-right info icon Combined Shape Copy instagram icon instagram copy kickstarter icon Artboard Copy 5 leaf icon leaf lightbulb icon icon--lightbulb link icon Combined Shape Copy 8 loading-spin icon lock icon Combined Shape Copy 4 mail icon Combined Shape map-pin icon Fill 1 menu icon Group message icon Fill 1 Copy 12 mobile icon Page 1 Copy 2 pause icon pause copy pencil icon Combined Shape Copy 3 pin icon Combined Shape Copy 11 pinterest icon pinterest play icon play copy plus-human icon icon--plus-human plus icon Fill 1 Copy 7 question icon Combined Shape Copy 14 search icon Fill 1 Copy 11 shapeshift icon share icon Fill 1 Copy slash icon solid-arrow icon solid-arrow sound-hi icon Combined Shape sound-lo icon Combined Shape sound-mute icon Combined Shape star icon Fill 1 Copy 2 stopwatch icon Group 2 thumbs-up icon Shape tools icon Shape trash icon Combined Shape tumblr icon tumblr copy twitter icon twitter copy user icon Artboard Copy 10 volume-up icon Artboard Copy 9 warning icon Combined Shape Copy 10 write icon Artboard Copy 11 x icon Fill 1 Copy 4 youtube icon Combined Shape