In this article, we will focus on a rising and interesting technological trend which may look surprising at first: the rise of the mini-technologies.
What are the Mini-Technologies ?
Roughly speaking the mini technologies consist of building smaller-scale technologies. There is no actual consensus around the term mini technologies and it is the goal of the present article to introduce it.
Mini technologies do not mean “micro-technologies” or “nano technologies” which relates to something else. By Mini technologies, we mean the commercial offer consisting of proposing existing technologies on a reduced scale and capacity without a drastic technological change. Usually, this allows proposing products to some consumers that would never have thought that they could afford it because usually reserved to ‘big players’ such as countries for example.
There are examples of mini-submarines, mini-cars, mini aeroplanes (aka ‘private jets’) etc… this is not new but here we aim at presenting a brand new range of mini products – originally considered as industrial and ‘big’ – which are recently proposed to the market as a ‘mini’ version.
One of the most uncommon mini technology is the recent trend in developing small modular, mini nuclear reactors.
Nuclear reactors are usually generally ‘big’, they require lots of spaces, a lot of staff and important amounts of water for cooling the system. Except in an ultra-restricted area in the military domain, there haven’t been until recently any mini nuclear reactors developed for the ‘open market’.
The mini nuclear reactors or small modular reactors (SMRs) are a new type of nuclear fission reactors that are much smaller than their conventional counterparts.
Such reactors are usually almost entirely manufactured inside a plant and transported to the location where they shall operate. Mini reactors do not require, at the opposite of conventional nuclear reactors, onsite building and they have generally stronger containment efficiency as well as better overall security.
Mini nuclear reactors cost far less than the conventional ones and they can allow countries with small energy needs to operate nuclear power plants. This can involve both thermal neutron and fast neutron reactors.
Here we list some of the providers of such mini reactors:
- Toshiba 4S (Ultra super safe, Small and Simple);
- Hyperion nuclear reactor.
Recent offers in the aerospace industry involve mini-launchers, that is to say, space rockets conventionally smaller than the traditional ones with the ability to deliver a payload into orbit. Such mini launchers can launch mini-satellites or even mini vehicles.
For instance, the small satellite launcher Virgin Orbit recently announced its plans to send tiny vehicles to Mars. Small launchers are targeting small satellites (less than 300 kg). Small satellites are usually piggybacking on larger satellites launches but they always have a hard time finding a suitable match since the date and location is dictated by the primary payload.
Mini space launchers can send into low earth orbit small satellites, typically used for technology demonstration, education etc…
Here we list some of the companies offering the services of mini space launchers:
- PLD Space using its Miura ( Arion) launcher;
- Deimos and Orbex and the AZμL launch service, based on the Orbex prime vehicle;
- Avio using the Vega workhorse and the upcoming Vega-C;
- MT Aerospace.
Mini-computers and especially Mini-PCs involve technologies which can reduce a working modern PC into the size of a box with dimensions ranging from 10 cm to only a few cms. Some Mini-PCs are so tiny that they are no bigger than a cigarette case.
These mini Pcs have USB ports, External VGA ports so they can be connected to the usual peripherals: keyboard, mouse, screen. Mini PCs can be provided with an operating system such as Windows 10 for instance.
Here are some of the main mini-PC manufacturers:
- Quantum Access
- ACEPC T8
- ZOTAC MAGNUS.
- Apple Mac Mini
- Intel NUC
Benefits of Mini-PCs can be various. In industrial applications, they can be easily scaled and streamed over a platform. They also allow employees to carry their data home from work easily. They can also be used by students. Finally, this is a huge benefit to use such mini-PC and not having to maintain a big, annoying clumsy PC tower making often a lot of noise.
Mini Oil Refineries
A surprising application of mini-technologies is the development of modular mini oil refineries. Modular mini refineries are proposed to emerging economies, in remote locations where diesel, gasoline or fuel oil are needed. Mini refineries need but a very short time for design and construction, they use small power consumption and of course, they require far less CAPEX than traditional oil refineries (this said they are still not exactly affordable to the average consumers )
The building of real and functional mini-houses is now possible. Amazon sells kits which allows just a few people to build a real house in just a few days. Mini houses contain everything which is needed for a house: water, heating, sewage, etc…
Radars are generally perceived as big and expensive equipment. Even small radars are perceived to need a few meters space.
Recent offers involve the development of mini-radars of the size of an iPhone 6. They can be used to equip delivery drones for instance.
In this article, we have seen only a few examples of what may be called the mini-technologies. These technologies operate on various marketing aspects of a product and should be generally conceived as overall beneficial for the end consumer. Mini technologies are often smarter, they cost less, consume less energy, requires less staff to operate and provides a new market for existing products, just by reducing their sizes!
Rithesh Raghavan is co-founder and Director at Acodez, a multiple international award-winning Digital Agency in India. Having a rich experience of 15+ years in Digital Marketing, Rithesh loves to write up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development. Facebook Linkedin