A Sense of Both the Past and the Future: Sensor Technology
What is a sensor? A sensor is a device or machine that detects and responds to actions in the physical environment; this could include: light, heat, motion, moisture, pressure, or any one of a great number of other environmental stimulus that either mother nature or mankind has to offer. Sensors of everywhere. They are absolutely everywhere. In your houses in the form of alarms and in your TV and it’s remote control.
Your mobile phone has a number of sensors embedded in it too; how did you think it did all that cool stuff? It uses an accelerometer (try saying that three times fast) to detect orientation and movement, allowing features like shaking the phone to change music; a gyroscope to detect rotation of phone to play those all important games; a digital compass to detect, yep, you guessed it, direction; ambient light sensor to that cool thing when the screen brightness both decreases and increases based on the surrounding light (conserving you a hell of a lot battery life while it’s at it); and a proximity sensor, which automatically locks the screen when the device is brought near the ears during a call to prevent unwanted touch commands (bet you didn’t even think that was so helpful, but it is).
The video game industry has evolved two-fold over the past decade upon implementing sensor technology, so much so that we can now live in a video game. The introduction to the console world of Nintendo’s Wii and Xbox’s Kinect franchises saw millions of gamers around the world have the distance between themselves and the game they were playing abolished due to the interactivity they could now deploy through the waving of a remote or even by using themselves as remote.
And sensors are also being used for far more important circumstances. Ambulances have began to implement the E-Ambulance system which uses sensors to provide an automatic responses of suggestions and warnings to paramedic staff from inside the vehicle. Sensor networks record and deliver health status information to other health systems, i.e. the hospital of which they are driving to meaning that the health givers that are waiting can make decisions regarding the patient before they are even in the hospital.
The power of the sensor has also stretched as far as the business world where sensor technology can now be used to power booking software. The technology delivers real-time information on space availability for all those business owners out there who need a meeting room or workspace to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams, saving them both valuable time that they can spend on bettering their business, and saving them from wasting money.
And sensors are even in you! Your eye uses a sensor to detect light, your ear uses on to detect sound energy, your skin detects heat and so on and so forth. They are some of the oldest, yet at the same time newest pieces of technology known to man, and who knows where they’ll be taken in the future?