May 3, 2010: This article discusses Smart Dust, a concept first proposed by scientists in 1996, and still not quite possible with modern technology. The article does, however, talk about current and planned projects which are close to the Smart Dust concept. Smart Dust refers to the idea of blanketing the earth with tiny sensors with wireless internet connections. They could track weather, disasters, environmental data, traffic, and people. This would provide the scientific community (and the media, and police or other first responders) with faster data collection and instant notification if something unusual were happening.
Game and Story Use
- In games with nanotech or sufficiently advanced technology, sensors could be everywhere. Trillions of tiny cameras, smaller than a grain of rice, let loose to blow around on the wind and report back constantly from every corner of the earth.
- Big Brother is watching! Say goodbye to privacy. An authoritarian fascist state could use these to spy on rebels and social activists.
- Espionage would be constant, but it'd take an organization much larger than the NSA to filter out the useful data from all the false leads and daily routines of billions of people being spied upon.
- An ecological catastrophe waiting to happen. Animals will swallow the tiny cameras and die, or at least transmit nothing but info about their own digestive system.
- The article discusses less futuristic uses of the same idea.
- Hunting for Oil with matchbook-sized seismic sensors.
- Multiple thermostats built into every corner of every room for customized climate control.
- Vehicle-detecting magnetic sensors that track how many and which parking spots are empty, so on-board computers can find you the nearest parking spot.
- Sensors built into cell phones so that every person carrying a phone becomes a roving data collection device.
- A project called the "Central Nervous System of the Earth" with biological, geological, etc sensors.