MEMS stands for "microelectromechanical system" which allows rapid scanning of wide areas with a laser. "A silicon mirror suspended by carbon fibers can vibrate very quickly, scanning a laser across a surface fast enough to draw high-resolution images." MEMS is acclaimed as the new technologies for this century. Research in biomedical engineering, communications & networks, electromagnetics, multimedia processing, microelectronics are just a few of the areas that is conducting MEMS research.
What does that mean for me and why should I care about MEMS in education?
An article written in MIT's Technology Review reports that researchers at Cornell University have used the MEMS technology to develop a new tiny projector. This project can display a metre wide display from only half a metre away.
While working to get production costs down...in three years we could see high definition television displayed from our mobile phones and other portable devices.
Imagine a teacher walking into the classroom with only a PDA in hand ready to teach the class. Projection capability, Internet connectivity, videos, lessons, attendance, all available through the PDA.....what could be possible with MEMS technology?
Wait there is a show on world history being shown on satellite television....grab the PDA and prop it on the desk, plug the speakers into the PDA, connect to the schools satellite and project the show.
Before the physical education class goes out onto the field to play rugby.....let's review the plays. All students gather around the outside of the school and the phys.ed teacher projects on the outside wall of the school (from his PDA) a quick review of rugby videos on various plays the students will need to perform on the field.
Showing a PowerPoint and want to edit it on the fly? While you are showing a PowerPoint through your PDA....attach your virtual laser keyboard to your PDA and you can add content to your PowerPoint during the lesson.
Wow....I envision a whole new freedom for educators in the next couple of years. I think with MEMS and other new technologies it is going to change the look of the classroom (hopefully for the good) and give educators a new freedom from all of the "tools" we have to gather up for a lesson today (projectors, smartboards, computers, etc....).
Are we there yet?