We thought Raspberry Pi was already quite the tiny computer. Then, along come devices like the Intel Compute Stick that shoehorn a computer into something the size of a slightly larger USB flash drive. The crazy kooks over at Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) are taking it another quantum step forward by announcing Google Vault, a computer that fits on a micro SD card.
Announced and unveiled at Google’s I/O conference this week, alongside Android M and Google Photos, Project Vault is incredibly ambitious. Of course, the tiny micro SD sized device can’t completely function on its own, but what’s nifty is that it will work with practically any platform. Project Vault has 4GB of on-board storage, an NFC chip and antenna, an ARM processor, and a secure operating system called ARTOS.
When you shove Project Vault into a microSD card slot, it shows up like a generic storage device. However, there’s far more than meets the eye. It displays just two files: one for reading and one for writing. Hidden beneath that is all the secure encryption for whatever the app is trying to do. The example shown off at Google I/O was a secure chat application. Each message goes through Vault, which encrypts and decrypts it accordingly. The phone never sees the algorithms or keys.
It’s pretty epic and it will be very interesting to see how developers take advantage of this technology. It is a little funny, though, that Google Project is effectively a computer on a microSD card as none of the Nexus devices have microSD card slots.