It is very easy to forget, amid all the doom and gloom of the recession, that Ireland is one of the most pioneering places on earth for modern technology. This was the key point that was underlined by Noel Murphy, head of Intel’s silicon design team.
Speaking at the Thinking Big Conference in UCD last week, Mr Murphy talked at length about some of the areas that Intel hope to venture into in the near future. For him, the most exciting new area is wearable technology. Now that smart phones have become ubiquitous, Mr Murphy said that the next logical step is for technology to extend to things that can be worn, like watches.

To this, he showed off a new product 'Nexie' set to hit next year which promises to “revolutionise the selfie”. Nexie is a small device that can be wrapped around your wrist. When you want to take a photo, you throw it in the air like a boomerang, and utilising the same technology as a drone, it floats back towards you and takes photos as it does. Given that the quality of photos tends to get worse as the night goes on, this is will probably be a very popular product. 
 
Nexie, though using a microchip that was developed in Intel, is not the product of a big corporation, but rather something that was dreamed up by a group of friends. According to Noel Murphy, this is typical of the tech scene in Ireland. When transistors, the bricks and mortar of electronics, where first introduced to the market it cost a dollar to make one. Now, your dollar will get you a million transistors. This has meant that experimentation has become easier and more accessible than ever. If people have an idea for a product they need not try and sell it to a big corporation, as it is now easy for anybody with an interest to work towards making that idea a reality themselves. This has lead to a culture of innovation, and Ireland, it seems, is at the forefront of this culture. 
 
This culture of innovation is epitomised by the Hackathon event. Traditionally, software would be the focus of experimentation for amateurs, but with Hackathon we see new ideas for Hardware developing. The idea is quite simple. Teams are given 36 hours to create a piece of hardware that could have a real world purpose. Last year's winners, a team from DCU, created a cash register that is able to count and distribute money itself. This might seem banal, but given that robotic cars are set to become a reality within a decade, it is exactly in line with the trends that are dominating world electronics. 
 
Ireland is one of the leading nations with regards to new hardware. The Galileo Microchip, recently developed by Intel, is set to break boundaries all over the world. Mr Murphy stated that this is a ‘direct’ result of the tech culture that exists in Ireland, where production has increased by 100% each year over the past few years. Ireland, it would seem, is closer to the future then most.  

Photo: Fabrizio Sciami/ Flickr