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Will Digital Tech Keep Getting Smaller?

Digital tech has gone through many changes over the years, with revolutions becoming more regular as time goes on. It’s always been the aim of most tech to keep size as small as possible while still being functional, but will this trend continue forever? Simply put, it’ll try, but we may reach a cap on how small we can make things.

One great example of how tech is getting smaller and more functional is that of cameras. Cameras did not begin as digital, but sizes have still dropped incredibly over time. In the late 90s the only digital cameras available were those which we just a camera; no filming, no phone, no extras of any kind. These followed the example set out by non-digital cameras, and were rather bulky to be easy to hold and recognisable. This didn’t last long, as cameras immediately started getting smaller for convenience. To put this into perspective, a 3 Mega-Pixel camera in the 90’s was approximately 12-15cm wide and 2-4cm deep. Nowadays, a 3MP camera can be found (online on EBay, Amazon etc.) which is the size of a shirt button for under £20. Not only is tech shrinking , the parts are getting more sophisticated.

This increase in the viability of technologies is not a new or unheard of concept, and most industries prefer to make a smaller product with better specs. Even thinking of data storage, one of the cornerstones of modern technology, you can easily see how shrinking tech is a popular thing. 20 years ago, buying an SD card for a camera was an ordeal; low storage capacity and high costs. Nowadays, instead of buying a 512MB SD card, you can just as easy buy a 512GB SD card. 20 years ago, half a terabyte was near-impossible storage capacity for any person to reach, and now you can carry that in your camera or phone.

Technology doesn’t seem to be slowing down in getting smaller, with massive revolutions in both design and material science being made every year. Unfortunately, there will reach a point where we simply cant shrink our devices any further, either for technological limitations like processor size, or ergonomics. It’s crucial that all commercially available tech is handle able, meaning if we make things too small then they may simply break or get lost too easily.

One example of this is MicroSIM cards, where the size has rapidly shrunk over the last few years. Most phones come with a sim card adapter, where a tiny MicroSIM can be placed into a case to act as a normal SIM, but this is simply backwards compatibility. The concept of a SIM card will have to be rethought at some point in the near future, and this will most likely be by Apple; they love sleek design and small features, seen by their slim phones and lack of headphone slot.

Without changes to the core, archaic concepts of certain digital tech, some things can never be smaller than they are right now. The 3.5mm headphone jack found on most (i.e. not Apple) phones is still around because it works, and its cheap. If people did want a smaller headphone jack, then not only would new headphones have to become standard, but there would be multiple designs on the market making it difficult to compare.

For digital tech to shrink, not only does the manufacturing and material technology need to be there, but the desire for a change also has to be present. Many times over the years companies have attempted to standardize and shrink aspects of tech, but it rarely works beyond what people are comfortable with. USB Type C was meant to be the standard for phones, but this was another failed experiment. If the desire to change isn’t there, then tech will not advance as hoped.