We have really just begun!Saturday, November 28th, 2009 by Roberto Saracco
In these last decades telecommunications has become the most widespread infrastructure in the world, linking over 4 billion phones and it is well on the way to reach the one man – one phone target by the next decade. What else could we imagine?
Well, HP has just announced the project CeNSE, a Central Nervous System for the Earth. www.hpl.hp.com/research/quantum_systems.html
It is an R&D program to build a planet wide sensing network using billion and billion of tiny sensors, including accelerator (to detect motion and vibrations), barometric pressure, light, temperature, pesticide and whatever. All of them should be linked to a over-reaching infrastructure, the one for the Internet of Things. Obviously, each sensor have to be extremely cheap, robust and self standing. The technology used is stemming from the work of HP labs on Nanotechnologies. Sensors are similar to RFID chips although the first batch has been designed to measure acceleration. These sensors are amazingly sensitive, over 1000 fold more accurate than the accelerometers used in devices like the iPhone and Wii.
According to HP these sensors could be used on any building, including bridges, to detect structural strains, they may be used to finely measure weather conditions, monitor traffic. How many sensors would you need to measure possible strain in a structure like the Golden Gate bridge? According to HP some 10,000 sensors would do! And if the figure looks impressive you will be staggered by the forecast of HP Lab: by the end of the next decade the world will be covered by a trillion! Of sensors (that is one thousand billion). Curiously, this is exactly the same figure estimated at the end of the 90ies by DoCoMo.
In the words of HP Lab they will cost next to nothing and they will measure everything.
In perspective these sensors may be embedded in any objects and may be used to recognize any objects, people included.
All these sensors will provide a huge amount of data to supplement the already growing information base that everyday is becoming available. It is difficult to predict what new services and what new business will become possible, but I am sure we are in for some unexpected twist.
Get more information on what HP Labs are doing at the nanoscale: