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Smart Dust: Nano-sized Computers that Monitor and Sense Anything Anywhere

By Dick Weisinger

Smart dust is what people are calling swarms of microscopic monitoring sensors and cameras that are able to monitor and report on anything. They are able to detect light, vibration, temperature and noise and then relay the information back to a receiver. The systems are light and small enough to be able to be suspended in air. Smart Dust was added to the Gartner Hype List in 2016.

Joshua R. Smith, professor at the University of Washington, was quoted in the WSJ saying that “if we look at it from the power consumption side, the energy efficiency of microelectronics [needed for smart dust] has improved by more than a factor of a trillion from ENIAC [one of the world’s first electronic computers] to today.”

Applications for smart dust include:

  • Monitoring – equipment, crops, hazardous areas
  • Measurement
  • Inventory control
  • Diagnostic monitoring for healthcare

Michio Kaku, author and physicist, said that “the Pentagon has been looking into the possibility of developing “smart dust,” dust-sized particles that have tiny sensors inside that can be sprayed over a battlefield to give commanders real-time information. In the future it is conceivable that “smart dust” might be sent to the nearby stars.”

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