“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” — Muhammad Ali
In the Beginning, there were electrons. Then came wire. Then the switch. And it was good.
At some level, wires and switches are all we need to make digital electronic systems. Submicron transistors are the switches and stacked metal layers are the wires. Progress, eh?
But some systems need really big switches, and for those we employ mechanical relays or IGBTs or some other type of high-voltage, high-current toggle switch. Power supplies have mechanical on/off switches. The circuit breakers in your house use switches. You don’t see Dr. Frankenstein biasing the gate on a transistor, do you?
Some things seem to be improvement-proof. It’s pretty hard to come up with a better alternative to wire or switches. What could be simpler or more reliable than a basic on/off switch? Glad you asked…
A 35-person startup company has invented a replacement for the lowly switch. Hardly seems possible, but they’ve produced prototypes and are getting a warm reception from wireless 5G developers and telecom companies. Why telecom? Because the equipment up a pole consumes a lot of power but also has limited space. And space – that is, physical size – is the biggest thing separating this switch from its antediluvian ancestors.