Imagine if… SENSORS

Imagine if…

· iPhones recognized when you walked outside of a building and automatically provided live feeds to the National Weather Service?

· health and vehicle insurance rates could be reduced based on how often you exercise and your safe driving patterns?

· medical doctors could review your medical stats (blood pressure, heart rate, glucose, etc) every day from the past year when you have your annual exam?

Sensors have become more prevalent in the past few years; however, we are only in the infancy of use. Drones, wearable sensors, and mobile phones and devices not yet developed will provide more data in the next decade than humans could ever analyze. Sensors are not only becoming more common, but they are also smaller and cheaper. These devices will make our lives easier and more challenging with increasing amounts of data and the worry of privacy.
The use of drones (unmanned aerial systems or UAS) by the military over the past decade has resulted in much criticism and angst of their use. On the other hand, there are many positive applications of UAS technology. The Department of Defense is using UASs and their affiliated technology to support disaster response and humanitarian operations. The Navy Research Laboratory is currently testing the Close-in-Convert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA), a UAS with acoustic, meteorological, or chemical — detection sensors. The CICADA is the size a compact disc and glides in to hard to reach or dangerous areas (e.g. Fukushima, Japan) to collect data. Other than disaster management, UASs are used in site monitoring (i.e. waterways and shipping, pollution control, air sampling, and forests), crop management, security, search and rescue, and inspecting intrastructure (i.e. powerlines).

According to predictions by eMarketer, in 2016 mobile ad spending is expected to top $100 Billion, a 430 percent increase from 2013. With sensors in mobile devices that know where you are, what direction you are headed, and how fast you are moving, mobile ads can be tailored to individual customers. For example, if the potential customer is an athlete, then we can target ads to runners or cyclists, respectively as they are running or cycling along a trail based on their speed. Brick and mortar stores are already using sensors to track customers as they move through a store. This data to determine high traffic areas and move more profitable items to those areas of the store. As mobile device sensors become more advanced and prevalent on smart phones, increased development of sensors will increase interactivity between ads and users. These sensors will also enable businesses use enhanced algorithms that will increase the likelihood of reaching their target audience.

In the fitness arena, the Garmin 910xt, Fitbit, Fuel Band, and Apple Watch along with numerous mobile apps (e.g. RunKeeper) passively and actively collect data on exercise activity and health stats. From professional athletes to the occasional runner, these sensors are used to track exercise times, count steps and flights climbed, heart rate, calories burned, how often we work out, and analyze our sleep (or lack of it).

With increasing health costs, sensors provide a method for monitoring patients while they are away from medical care. Wearable and implanted sensors allow doctors to monitor how much their patients are exercising and record blood pressure, heart rate, sleep, blood alcohol and glucose. Wearable devices can provide data that is collected at the same moment, every day or every hour. Doctors can use this additional information to make more informed decisions about care they are providing to their patients. Patients will benefit greatly from additional data that is gathered from more periodic health monitoring.

What’s next? With ‘large live data’ feeds from multiple sources, there will be a need for better technologies to support exponentially increasing bandwidth use. This increase in data will drive a greater need for more data scientists and experts in data visualization. Geospatial information systems will collect and analyze data in real time to provide information to customers. Data processing will occur on cloud based computer systems in order to collect and process. Most importantly, corporations and governments need to place increased emphasis on collaboratively developing privacy policies and laws that will protect the privacy of citizens on how sensor data is used, stored, shared, and protected from cyber attack.

What’s your imagine if? How do you “Imagine” sensors being used in the future?