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We view MEMS as a set of technologies that make it possible to miniaturize and mass-produce integrated sensors, actuators, and computers. We use the term MEMS broadly to include a range of technologies that are required to construct these integrated devices, including micromachining as well as things like thin-film battery technology and smart materials.

In this study, we are looking 5-10 years down the road to a time when this mass production and miniaturization will make it possible to embed large numbers of MEMS devices within materials, to coat them on top of surfaces, and to distribute them throughout the environment, effectively coupling computation to the physical world on a scale that has never been possible before. The purpose of this study is to explore what some of the benefits of this coupling are, and to recommend research in information technology required to exploit those benefits.