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Home > News > Smart Dust? Not Quite, but We’re Getting There

January 31st, 2010

Smart Dust? Not Quite, but We’re Getting There

Abstract:
Years ago, enthusiasts predicted the coming of "smart dust" — tiny digital sensors, strewn around the globe, gathering all sorts of information and communicating with powerful computer networks to monitor, measure and understand the physical world in new ways. But this intriguing vision seemed plucked from the realm of science fiction.

Smart dust, to be sure, remains a ways off. But technology's virtuous cycle of smaller, faster and cheaper has reached the point that experts say sensors may soon be powerful enough to be the equivalent of tiny computers. Some ambitious sensor research projects provide a glimpse of where things are headed.

Years ago, enthusiasts predicted the coming of "smart dust" — tiny digital sensors, strewn around the globe, gathering all sorts of information and communicating with powerful computer networks to monitor, measure and understand the physical world in new ways. But this intriguing vision seemed plucked from the realm of science fiction.

Smart dust, to be sure, remains a ways off. But technology's virtuous cycle of smaller, faster and cheaper has reached the point that experts say sensors may soon be powerful enough to be the equivalent of tiny computers. Some ambitious sensor research projects provide a glimpse of where things are headed.

If sensor-based computing takes off, it will ignite fresh demand for a wide range of hardware and software to store, process and search the new oceans of data for nuggets of useful knowledge. So it could be a boon to business, a foundation for what analysts call "the Internet of Things."

"It does feel almost like the beginning of the Internet," says Katharine Frase, vice president for emerging technologies at I.B.M. Research. "You can see that sensor computing is going to be important and useful, but it's not possible to see in advance just how it will transform things."

Source:
nytimes.com

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