Digital sensors as small as a grain of sand or dust are now being designed and perfected, signaling the introduction of miniaturized sensors into every aspect of our lives. The smaller computers get, the more useful they become. An example of this is the smartphone; the smaller the processors the more applications become feasible. The same is true for digital sensors used in attachable devices, such as a fitness band, or sensors integrated into factory machinery. Sensors are on the verge of becoming so tiny that they will be completely integrated into the world around us and inside us; sensors will soon enable everything to be measured and manipulated.
How small is small? How tiny is tiny? Can you imagine the width of a sensor that is half the diameter of a human hair that can be implanted into the body and integrated into human cells to achieve medical breakthroughs? The researchers at the University of California Berkeley have created sensors small enough – roughly the size of a grain of sand – that can be attached to individual muscle and nerve fibers of rats. These sensors could soon monitor human health over the long term. They’ve also created biodegradable sensors that can be implanted in the human body to monitor traumatic injuries. Amazingly, these sensors will melt away when the injury is healed.
University of Washington researchers have created a tiny sensor that collects energy from radio waves that are flowing invisibly around us, from sources like television and radio broadcasts, cell phones, wifi and converted to a viable power source – no batteries required.
Engineers at General Electric and the 3D printing company Optimak are working to create a smart dust compound that can be painted on nearly any surface. This compound will harden into a sensor that will function in the dirtiest and hottest places, even such harsh climates as inside of industrial gas turbines.
The versatility of these sensors will help us experience a new world, far beyond what we currently experience. Sensors will most likely enable us to:
What does this mean for the future of your business? Computing power could increase exponentially; we are already seeing this in today’s autonomous vehicles that carry their own data centers and cloud computing environments around with them. Imagine that when our bodies, our cars, even the paint on our walls is generating data, which will need unforeseen amounts of computer power to handle it all. We will also need better ways of securing data so that we avoid potentially lethal manipulation and misuse of the copious amounts of data that will be required. One thing is certain, tiny sensors will translate to progressively faster change, and all of us will need to keep up to maintain the competitive edge.
Whatever innovations the future holds for your business Lanier Upshaw will be there to help companies deal with emerging risks. Contact us here to learn more.