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disposable computer

A disposable computer is a small data processing device with input/output , memory , and communication capabilities; the device is intended to be used for a limited time period or number of uses and then discarded. Cypak AB, a Swedish company, produces disposable computers and sells them to OEM s (original equipment manufacturers) for about $1 (U.S.) each. The Cypak device, essentially a processor mounted on paperboard, is currently being embedded in packing materials and used, for example, to track delivery data in courier packaging and to monitor patient dosage data from within the packaging for medications. Cypak's disposable computer has 32 kilobyte s of memory, which is enough to allow it to process and exchange several pages of encrypted data; it communicates through RFID .

As the price of embedded system s decreases, their cost becomes a less significant portion of the total cost of production, making the devices practical for a wider range of applications. According to some embedded systems engineers, disposable networked computers could soon be embedded in almost anything in our environment, leading to an envisioned future situation sometimes called ubiquitous computing .

A disposable computer is not necessarily the same thing as a disposable PC , which is a relatively inexpensive but full-featured personal computer that is designed to be discarded rather than fixed when serious problems arise.

This was last updated in September 2005

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