In technology, it is often the case that the more advanced the device, the smaller it becomes. The earliest computers of the mid-20th century, for example, famously took up entire rooms. It was only toward the end of the century that computing devices began to be small enough (and cheap enough to manufacture) that they were usable by individuals at home. Now, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) has revealed one of the very smallest computing devices in history. It is smaller than a grain of salt, it costs under 10 cents to make and it has built-in blockchain applications.

According to a report by Coin Speaker, the device was revealed as part of IBM's "5-in-5" project, an experimental endeavor aimed at producing new technologies that could transform the world within a five-year period. The device has minimal computing power compared most standard computers today. In fact, it is comparable with an x86 chip from 1990. However, the fact that the device itself is as tiny as it is (and as cheap as it is) means that it has innumerable applications.

The computer has up to 1 million transistors, a small amount of static random access memory, an LED and photo-detector. With all of these features, the computer will work on blockchain as a "data source of blockchain applications."

Applications in Basic AI Tasks

Among many other possibilities, this new tiny computer could be used to fulfill basic artificial intelligence (AI) tasks like sorting and tracking data. It could be used to track the shipment of goods, to detect theft or fraud and even to monitor for non-compliance.

IBM's head of research, Arvind Krishna explains that "within the next five years, cryptographic anchors—such as ink dots or tiny computers smaller than a grain of salt—will be embedded in everyday objects and devices."

The computer manufacturer is expecting that this new device will be both small and cheap enough to be incorporated into everyday "smart" devices relatively soon. Nonetheless, IBM has not yet announced an official release date for the device, as it is still in testing. It is not difficult to imagine a world in the near future in which nearly every device is connected with the cryptocurrency and blockchain spaces in some way or another.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns bitcoin and ripple.

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