The humble SIM card is set to become a lot more impressive following SK Telecom's research into embedded computing.
In a feat of engineering that really justifies the use of the word "impressive", and presumably as a demonstration of the technologies that could lead to ultra-slim handsets in the future, Korean mobile provider SK Telecom has created a SIM card which contains a computer, storage, and the Android mobile platform.
Yes, you read that right: a SIM card
which contains everything you need to run a modern mobile operating system - lacking merely the ancillaries like radio transceiver and display.
As reported over on MobileCrunch
, the standard size SIM manages to contain CPU, a small amount of RAM, 1GB of solid-state storage, and a copy of Google's Android mobile OS - potentially everything you need to run the operating system - leaving the rest of the 'phone to handle the boring stuff like connecting to the mobile network, providing power, and offering input and output devices like keypads, touchscreens, and speakers.
While the device is, for now, only a prototype it offers a glimpse into the future when a move between handsets means taking your entire operating system - complete with settings, address book, saved messages, and ringtones - with you, and instantly having the new handset configured exactly to your preferences. Well, so long as you stick with Android, of course.
The general premise hearkens back to the days when most mobile handsets stored messages and contact details on the SIM's internal memory - which was usually measured in kilobytes. As handsets became more advanced - with MMS, larger address books, customised ringtones - they were forced to move the data storage onto the handset rather than the SIM, making moving to a new handset a somewhat painful experience. SK Telecom's latest invention could solve all that - providing handset manufacturers buy in to the idea.
So far the company has not announced any plans to commercialise the product, but if the interest is there it's certain to license the technology.
Do you think that the all-in-one SIM could represent the future of mobile devices, or is SK Telecom merely showing off its technical prowess with an impressive but ultimately useless feat of engineering? Share your thoughts over in the forums