M3 Computer Claims to Be the World’S Smallest (Download PDF)


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Michigan Micro Mote, or M3, has been released & claimed to be smallest in world. What is M3 Computer? - Designed for Internet of Things (IoT) it measures 1 cubic mm. It packs sensors & other features into single package.

Image of M3 Computer Claims to Be the World's Smallest

Image of M3 Computer Claims to Be the World’s Smallest

Image of M3 Computer Claims to Be the World’s Smallest

  • M3 Computer is smaller than rice grain.

  • Created by research team at University of Michigan, scaled-down M3 is complete computing node w/wireless sensing & incorporates signal processing, memory, & low-resolution imager alongside temp. sensor, & on-board CMOS timer.

  • Diminutive device communicates over Wi-Fi & charges small battery by harnessing solar energy.

  • M3 can perpetually charge itself using ambient light, so it never needs external power source, making it ideal for incorporation into everyday objects.

  • To be “complete, ” computer system must have input of data, ability to process that data - meaning process & store it, make decisions about what to do next – & ultimately, ability to output data.

  • Sensors are input & radios are output. Other key to being complete computer is ability to supply its own power.

Secret of M3: Stacked Layers and MBus

  • Michigan Micro Mote is built in stacked layers which are able to communicate thru specially-designed universal interface protocol called MBus.

  • Each M3 computer contains solar cell & optical communication photocell, harvester control electronics layer, radio layer, sensor interface layer (temp sensor & capacitive interface electronics), layer w/capacitors for stabilizing power supplies, processor, memory, power regulation layer & battery layer. There is optional layer for pressure sensor.

Wireless Communication

  • M3 computers can collect & transmit data as far as 2 meters, about width of cubicle. At that range these computers can monitor room for motion or anomalies in pressure & temp. , all while communicating that data to base station.

  • Sensors activate on their own to take periodic measurements & then log that data until it is sent. Operating at extremely low power during “sleep” time is one of many keys to success of this technology.

  • Stumbling block to extending range of these devices is antenna size & accompanying increase in power needed to communicate long distances.

  • The group achieved wireless communication from M3 w/temp. sensor to base station up to 7m away. Complete sensor node is energy autonomous w/2mm, 2μAh battery & integrated solar cell.

- Published/Last Modified on: September 12, 2018

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