For those of us with pets, the animal is nearly as much a part of the family as any human. Losing that pet—whether it runs away, becomes lost, or is stolen—can be as tragic as losing any other member of the family.
Implanting a microchip in your pet might help you recover it, but only if the animal shows up at a facility—such as the pound or the Humane Society—that’s equipped with a scanner. Snaptracs, a division of the mobile-technology behemoth Qualcomm—promises a much better solution: A $100 GPS device that attaches to the pet’s collar, so you can instantly locate your pet anywhere on the planet (there’s also a $8 per-month subscription fee after the first month). You can add up to nine additional pets to the subscription plan for $1 per month, plus the cost of each Tagg tracker.
The Middle East is getting its first microchip factory thanks to a massive $7 billion investment by the Abu Dhabi government-owned Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC).
You might recognize ATIC as the company behind GlobalFoundries, AMD's microchip business spin-off. ATIC has already plunked down $3.6 billion expanding GlobalFoundries and improving plants in Germany and the U.S.
According to company CEO Ibrahim Ajami, the new facility will ramp up its production between 2014 and 2015. GlobalFoundries will operate the 300mm fab, and with continued investments, has grown to rival chip making stalwart Taiwan Semiconducter Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
It's fourth and inches on the goal line and your team is down by 6 with just seconds to go. Naturally, they're going to go for the touchdown. The running back gets the ball and dives over the linesmen where he's met by a pile of bodies keeping him out of the endzone. However, all he needs to do is reach the football out and break the plane. Did he make it?
It's not always easy to tell, and even instant replay is at the mercy of camera angles and how many big bodies are in the way. Getting the wrong call in this situation could determine whether a team makes the playoffs or goes home early, and this is just one of many scenarios that referees can get wrong in the course of a game. To help eliminate what often boils down to guesswork, the NFL is reportedly in talks with German manufacturer Cairos Technologies to implant microchips into pigskins.
"Yes, we are talking. There is a demand in American Football," Cairos sales director Mario Hanus told Reuters in a recent interview.
Predictably, the NFL was pretty tight-lipped about the possibility of employing chip-in-ball technology, but a league spokesman did say they are looking at ways of expanding their use of technology on the field.
"We are always exploring ways in which we can be innovative with technology to improve our game and our fans enjoyment of the game," spokesman Michael Signora said.
If implemented, the chip would likely only be used to help determine contentious first-down and touchdown decisions, and could even be reserved for red flag challenges, of which each team gets two opportunities per game to challenge a call on the field with a video replay, with an additional challenge awarded if the first two are won.
So what do you think, football fans, would you like to see this technology come to fruition, or do NFL games play out just fine the way they are?
Imagine a microchip with the most beautiful blue eyes you've ever seen and absolutely no propensity towards disease. Now get that picture out of your head because it has nothing to do with what IBM is experimenting with.
IBM is, however, playing around with artificial DNA nanostructures, or "DNA origami," as a way to develop even smaller chips at cheaper prices, according to a paper published on Sunday in the journal of Nature Nanotechnology.
"This is the first demonstration of using biological molecules to help with processing in the semiconductor industry," IBM research manager Spike Narayan said in an interview with Reuters. "Basically, this is telling us that biological structures like DNA actually offer some very reproducible, repetitive kinds of patterns that we can actually leverage in semiconductor processes."
Narayan went on to say that if the DNA origami process scales to production level, manufacturers could look at spending less than a million dollars on polymers, DNA solutions, and heating implements, rather than hundreds of millions of dollars on complex tools.
Sounds great, but the technology is still a ways off. It will be take at least another decade of experimentation and testing, Narayan says.
As if the semiconductor market needed any more bad news, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) released a statement showing how bad worldwide sales of semiconductors have fallen in the past year, while warning that the industry has yet to hit rock bottom.
"The global semiconductor industry is going through one of the steepest corrections in its history," said SIA President George Scalise. "While it would be premature to conclude that the sales decline has hit bottom, there are some indications that the rate of decline has moderated from the final quarter of 2008. The industry responded quickly to the changing market environment by curtailing production and reducing inventory as demand slowed in late 2008. The world’s two largest foundry manufacturers have recently reported slight improvements in factory utilization rates, albeit at levels well below those of a year ago," Scalise continued.
According to SIA, worldwide semiconductor sales sat at just $14.2 billion in February 2009, a decline of a little more than 30 percent over February 2008 when sales reached 20.3 billion. It also represents a 7.6 percent drop from one month ago when sales were $15.3 billion in January.
Scalise warned that sales are expected to keep falling "well below 2008 levels" for the foreseeable future.