First, we had the floppy drives given to us by IBM – magnetic storage disks which came in sizes of 8-inch, 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch. I still remember thinking the floppy was cool during my Computer Science lab classes at school. As we entered the digital age, the greater was the need for more storage and we moved to CDs, USB drives, external hard drives, DVDs and memory cards. However, with the ever increasing amount of information being shared and the rapidly evolving media technologies, the storage media out there simply ain’t enough. When I bought my first 120 GB USB external drive, I thought it would satisfy my storage needs for quite a while. However, I soon found myself buying 2 more pocket drives (120 GB and 160 GB) and 2 SanDisk USB drives (2 GB and 8 GB) along with 4 10-pack boxes of DVDs/CDs. I could soon end up with a storage problem for my storage media!
Finally, a technology called Holographic storage/memory, which will greatly facilitate the storage of all our data/media is closer to getting into our living rooms. Watch this video below for an introduction to Holographic Storage.
While Holographic Storage is not a new technology (proposed by scientist Pieter J. van Heerden in the early 1960s, its mainstream use has been delayed due to efforts by various companies to mass-produce Holographic Data Storage Systems (HDSS). In my opinion, the best technologies are the ones which can make life easier at an affordable price. So, while a few companies have been building some HDSS, General Electric has focussed on developing a HDSS which can be easily mass-produced and used in the consumer market at an affordable price. And they’re close to realizing that goal with the development of a micro-holographic disc in their labs which meet the following criteria:
- Same size as that of existing CDs/DVDs
- Can store upto 500 GB
- Can be played in Blu-Ray and DVD players
- Much cheaper (10 cents per GB) than Blu-Ray discs ($1 per GB)
GE have said that they will first focus on commercial markets like movie studios, hospitals, etc. So, it could be a few years before this technology reaches the consumer market. Watch out for it! Read the NY Times press release.