Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

Analog computing is a term used by Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California, to describe silicon-based microsensors that sense and react to external (natural) stimuli in something that approximates the rhythm of reality rather than the "artificial" binary behavior of digital computing. Saffo foresees that, by implanting tiny machines including sensors and actuators in the same materials used to manufacture digital memory and processors (and by using some of the same manufacturing techniques), the next decade will increasingly find uses for "intelligent" material that responds to its environment in analog or dynamically responding fashion. Examples include packages that can "talk back" to their handlers; airplane wings that can reshape themselves as they meet turbulence; chairs that can mold themselves into the best supporting shape for each person.

Saffo's analog computers also go by the names of MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) and smart matter .

This was last updated in July 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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