Hi-tech trek – Chips with everything (2008)

Chris Bishop

Chris Bishop reveals the state-of-the-art in computer interaction.

Watch time: 37:10
A still from the 2008 CHRISTMAS LECTURE
Credit: Royal Institution

Lecture 2 – Chips with everything

More computers are manufactured every year than the world's total population. But fewer than 1% of these take the form of desktop or laptop computers. As microchips get smaller and faster they are being incorporated into an increasing range of devices all around us.

Every day we interact with dozens if not hundreds of computers, often without even realising it. But very few of these have mice and keyboards, and as computers become ever more widespread we will need new ways to communicate with them.

In this Lecture, Chris Bishop demonstrates new touch-screen technologies, three-dimensional displays, and even flexible screens that can be rolled up when they're not being used.

However, it's not just displays that are being revolutionised. As the number of computers around us grows, they will increasingly be networked together through the internet – opening up new opportunities to exploit this global computing power.


In this series of CHRISTMAS LECTURES, Chris Bishop invites us on a journey into the high-tech world of computer technology.

From the origin of the microprocessor to the development of the internet, the field of computer science has literally changed the way in which we live our lives.

But the world of computers is vast and complicated, ranging from the architecture of microchips to the use of quantum mechanics for data encryption – it's not always easy to know what exactly is going on inside the box.

So how do computers work? How is so much information stored within a single hard-drive and how do computers communicate with each other over the internet?

Across five lectures, Chris Bishop sheds light on some of these questions by tracing the evolution of the modern computer.

Along the way he explores the many technologies which have developed as a result of the computer revolution; including the interconnected world of the internet, the use of software to control hardware and the challenges involved in creating artificial intelligence.