The miniaturisation of computing is fuelling innovations in wearable devices, but another application on the horizon is "ingestible" computing.
Semiconductor company Freescale on Tuesday unveiled its new ARM-based "chip scale package" microcontroller (MCU), the Kinetis KL02, which measures 1.9 by 2 millimetres.
The low-powered MCU includes a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 processor, 32 KB flash memory and 4KB of RAM, a human-to-machine capacitive touch interface and can operate in temperature ranges between -40°C to +85°C. It's similar to Freescale's previous ARM MCUs, but smaller — the world's smallest, Freescale proclaims.
The Kinetis KL02 will be available to lead customers for sampling this March and will cost around USD 75 cents each in 100,000 blocks.
The mini-computers form part of Freescale's push towards the Internet of Things, with the latest addition to its MCU lineup designed for space-constrained applications that could not fit previous makes, such as the ARM-based K series MCUs it unveiled last August that were wafer thin, but twice the surface area.
Potential applications it points to include wearable devices, consumer portables, remote sensing nodes and "ingestible healthcare sensing".
ARM's director of Embedded Processor Products Richard York weighed in on the subject on the company blog on Tuesday, pointing to wearable devices like Nike's Fuel band, but also its application as a controller in rechargeable batteries or "a slim watch" that could tightly integrate with a smartphone.
"Another topic that is often speculated about is the world of sensors and that we can swallow, either to see what is going on from the inside or to deliver drugs to exactly the part of our digestive system for greatest effect. Tiny micros are going to be essential to make such things a reality," said York.