Open Source Sensing Initiatives March Forward

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 01, 2010

If you've ever read the work of futurist Ray Kurzweil, such as his book The Age of Spiritual Machines, you know that Kurzweil, along with many leading scientists, believes that tiny sensors have a future in machine intelligence that goes far beyond what most people imagine. In Kurzweil's version of the future, sensors, including biosensors, will radically extend lifespans, transform warfare, and much more. Biosensors--tiny devices that take action when biological triggers are detected--are making great strides, as evidenced by the three discussed here. It's also interesting to note that open source and its principles are influencing sensor development and deployment.

What do some of the cutting-edge new sensors do? Consider the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array. It's a miniature biosensor that can identify tiny microbes in a small sample. This device could help stop the spread of dangerous diseases as soon as the smallest traces are detected.

The Open Source Sensing project has been launched by the Foresight Institute to apply open source principles to the development and governance of sensor-centric initiatives. We wrote about it here. The Open Source Sensing initiative is seeking individuals and organizations to work with it on new applications for sensors.

We've also written before about Pachube, an open source sensing project that allows developers to gather data collected by tiny sensors on the web. Pachube bills itself as a way to "store, share & discover realtime sensor, energy and environment data from objects, devices and buildings around the world." It's worth taking a look at some of the sample applications for Pachube, which include ways to view sensor-gathered data on Android phones.

Sensors are already all around us, monitoring everything from the tire pressure in our cars to the atmosphere. In the future, they are likely to become part of "the Internet of things,"--how nearly everything is tracked and has a presence on online. Open source already has a place in that future, which is a good thing.