Sensors and 'smart dust'

I was reading this morning about "smart dust" sensors, the theory that scientists could create hundreds of sensors that are super small and that can be used to monitor all manner of environmental conditions. In reality, there is an initiative from Hewlett-Packard that uses sensors that aren't quite dust sized. Once environmentally sealed, a sensor about the size of a matchbook is in a casement with circuitry that ends up being about the size of a common VHS tape (you know those things everyone in our industry used before there were DVRs). According to the article I was reading (read it here on CNN), these sensors could be used for monitoring of earthquakes, energy usage, ecosystems "health" and more.

While the sensors aren't as small as the original theory of tiny sensors that scientists Kris Pister proposed, the push toward smaller and smaller sensors that exist autonomously to measure all variety of environmental conditions sounds like a huge deal for the security industry. Monitoring of such sensors has to be handled somewhere, and as far as I know, there aren't many industries that have such widespread monitoring capabilities as you might find in a security central station. It seems that there would also be "trickle down" technology benefits. Logic says that these sensors are going to be wireless, since it would be impractical to consider hard-wiring all of them. Thus, we might find that these sensors might help advance wireless communications for remote sensors (sensor "mesh" networks is the common route proposed to maintain such a complex communication network of remote sensors -- and they also might help advance battery technologies as well.

Finally, as sensors become smaller, more portable, and even less expensive, this is going to mean we will be able to rethink what exactly we can sense. While we now thinking about sensing intrusion and "glass breaks", what will be thinking about using sensor technology for in five years when sensors are more common place than ever? It's an interesting line of thought for our industry.

-Geoff

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