Announced today, the Kinetis KLO2 measures just 1.9 by 2 millimeters. It’s a full microcontroller unit (MCU), meaning the chip sports a processor, RAM, ROM, clock and I/O control unit — everything a body needs to be a basic tiny computer.
How tiny? One application that Freescale says the chips could be used for is swallowable computers. Yes, you read that right. “We are working with our customers and partners on providing technology for their products that can be swallowed but we can’t really comment on unannounced products,” says Steve Tateosian, global product marketing manager.
The KL02 is part of Freescale’s push to make chips tailored to the Internet of Things. Between the onboard peripherals and a power-management system tuned to the chemistry of current generation batteries, the KL02 is intended to be at the heart of a network of connected objects, moving from shoes that wirelessly report your steps (a natural evolution of Nike+) to pipes that warn you when they are leaking.
There are some clues we can glean about how this chip might end up inside our digestive tracts. Freescale already works with a variety of health and wellness customers. Both the Fitbit and OmniPod insulin pump use Freescale chips. It’s not hard to imagine a new generation of devices designed to monitor your internal health or release drugs and medicine from within your body.
Though it’s going to be available for general retail, Freescale says that the KL02 was specifically designed in response to a customer’s request. (They aren’t saying who.) There was a need for a chip smaller than 3 by 3 mm and this was the result. Who needs a chip this tiny? We look forward to finding out — we think.