Wireless sensors – soon of use nearly everywhere?
15 August 2010
Tiny, cheap, and reliable smart wireless sensors open up unimagined potential. In the near future we will have sensors that can measure pollution in nature, monitor patients without them being in a hospital, or meter allergen levels in buildings.
Wireless sensor networks consisting of hundreds or perhaps thousands of tiny linked units can be rapidly deployed anywhere, as no wires are needed. But these sensors have to be sufficiently inexpensive, reliable, and invulnerable to outside attacks.
“We have several projects underway, some of them in collaboration with industry,” says Per Gunningberg, professor of computer communication and director of Wisenet, Uppsala Vinn Excellence Centre for Wireless Sensor Networks at Uppsala University.
In just ten years, he believes, we will be surrounded by more wireless sensors than we can imagine, probably up to a hundred per person. There may be sensors inside machines to monitor wear, or sensors that balance air conditioning and heating systems to minimize energy use. Sensors will also be placed in rivers and brooks if pollution is suspected.
There is also tremendous potential for health and medical care. Sensors can be operated into the body to keep constant tabs on the oxygen content in the blood. Intestinal examinations will be facilitated by tiny sensors that the patient swallows.
Wisenet has started collaboration with several industrial companies that have shown an interest in the technology.
“It’s exciting to combine the short perspective of industry with the long horizon of research,” says Per Gunningberg.