The next explosive growth in the microprocessor industry, according to chip guru Levy Gerzberg, won't be powering a consumer electronics device. It will more likely be planted somewhere in our own bodies, under our skin, delivering critical information and executing actions that can quite literally prolong our lives.
Speaking at a forum at the Consumer Electronics Show on disruptive technologies, Gerzberg, the CEO of microprocessor designer Zoran, said that by definition a "disruptive technology" is one that changes our lives in a drastic and positive way. With that in mind, there can be no greater disruptive technology, he said, than technology embedded within the body to aid our health.
"As processors continue to shrink and use less power, the mathematical algorithms we can implement in silicon will make a very significant impact on our lives. In order to enjoy the high (Internet) speeds, the good music, all the things we keep talking about as being disruptive, we need one thing--to live longer."
Gerzberg said the chip industry is already half-way to producing processors small and power-efficient enough for such applications.
"This is an electronic pill," he said, holding up a tiny cylindrical device. "It is a camera you swallow. It goes through your intestines and it transmits via RF to a gadget in your belt. Where an endoscopic tube is a destructive technology, I call this a disruptive technology."
Future biotech advances will be even more drastic, he said. If today the industry can develop chips for cameras that are able to recognize facial features, Gerzberg says it is not unrealistic to see the same technology used to help the blind recognize the characteristics of the human face. Another potential chip, he suggests, could bring movement back to bodies with damaged nerves. Embedded in the human brain, the chip could send a signal to a damaged area within the body to zap a muscle into action whenever movement is required. Or better yet, a GPS-enabled chip might be included in a pacemaker, he postulates, which could "stimulate the heart just before the heart attack happens" and immediately give medical services personnel a heads-up as to where to find a person experiencing difficulty.
"We (those in the processor industry) are making progress," he said. "The evolutionary technology for this exists. We are getting closer to having human intelligence on a chip. Now it's time to pull it together and make it a revolution."
"I think in 20 years' time if we meet again here again at CES, there will be a new building dedicated to consumer medical electronics."
"It won't be called the Consumer Electronics Show," he said, "it will be the Consumer Medical Electronics Show."