Where Sensors Make Sense

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The idea of tiny, ubiquitous computers monitoring us and our environments from every nook and cranny might alarm a few civil libertarians – but this is exactly the concept driving researchers who are trying to perfect networks of smart, wireless sensors. They envision sensors sprinkled across a battlefield to warn of an enemy advance, or attached to pill bottles to alert caregivers to when an elderly patient takes (or doesn't take) his or her medication. They imagine faulty equipment in manufacturing plants that reports its own failures. In short, they see a pervasive grid of smart sensors that monitor, analyze, and network the bits and bytes of life. For years, these networks have remained largely in the prototype stage, not quite ready to hit the market.

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