Could we soon be storing our family photos, computer games and videos in plants? That’s the amazing solution for more ecological data storage that a couple of researchers from Denmark presented this month at Viva Tech, a big technology fair in Paris.
Monika Seyfried and Cyrus Clarke aren’t suggesting, of course, that we just stash our pictures and games in the bushes. Their bright idea uses DNA, the microscopic material that makes up the genes of living things. DNA stores information, like the shape and colour of a plant’s leaves.
Normally, we store digital information on chips of silicon, either in the computers and devices we use at home or “in the cloud”.
The “cloud” isn’t in the sky, of course. It just means our pictures, e-mails, videos and so on are stored somewhere on huge data servers connected to the Internet. These storage places use up lots of power, for the electricity that powers the computer circuits and, especially, for keeping the machines cool as they operate.
Monika and Cyrus reckon they could store the code for, say, a picture in the DNA of a plant, instead of on a computer chip. That could use a lot less electricity. They’ve called their idea Grow Your Own Cloud. And they want to replace the “cloud”, which isn’t really a cloud, with a “forest” that is… well, really, a forest!
They’ve a long, long way to go before it becomes reality. But could it be a solution for “data warming“?