HP has just unveiled an incredibly ambitious project to create a “Central Nervous System for the Earth” (CeNSE) composed of billions of super sensitive, cheap, and tough sensors. The project involves distributing these sensors throughout the world and using them to gather data that could be used to detect everything from infrastructure collapse to environmental pollutants to climate change and impending earthquakes. From there, the “Internet of Things” and smarter cities are right around the corner.
HP is currently developing its first sensor to be deployed, which is an accelerometer 1,000 times more sensitive than those used in the Wii or the iPhone – it’s capable of detecting motion and vibrations as subtle as a heartbeat. The company also has plans to use nanomaterials to create chemical and biological sensors that are 100 million times more sensitive than current models. Their overall goal is to use advances in sensitivity and nanotech to shrink the size of these devices so that they are small enough to clip onto a mobile telephone.
Once HP has created an array of sensors, the next step is distributing them and making sense of all the data they generate. That’s no easy task, granted that a network of one million sensors running 24 hours a day would create 20 petabytes of data in just six months. HP is taking all that number crunching to task however, and will be harnessing its in-house networking expertise, consulting, and data storage technologies for the project.
The creation of a global sensor system would be an incredible breakthrough – it could make our cities more efficient, save lives, and enable us to better understand, track, and combat climate change. As HP Labs senior researcher Peter Hartwell has stated, “If we’re going to save the planet, we’ve got to monitor it“.
Via Fast Company
Lead photo by Margie Wylie