Obligatory iPhone Posting
Embedding sensors into devices has long been predicted and some have been tried, but the concept seems to be emerging into standard products now. Neil Gershenfeld’s book, When Things Start to Think outlines the use of sensors in clothing and other articles to make them more useful.
A project by Tanzeem Choudbury at Intel uses an accelerometer, a barometer, a humidity sensor, a thermometer, a light sensor, a digital compass, and a microphone to sense the users activity and social situation (home, office, crowded room) etc and make decisions based on the environment.
The iPhone is a game changer and as I wrote in my post last week I think it could be a valuable platform for virtual instrumentation. Screen navigation has improved that one can do fairly sophisticated programming on the device. Memory is large enough to support substantial features. Wireless connectivity allows the device to connect to hardware devices for control and data acquisition applications. The use of sensors can also leverage virtual instrumentation applications – detecting the ambient temperature, proximity, and other capabilities can make the device useful as a measurement tool all by itself.
In fact as devices continue to come out with sensors built-in, why not use virtual instrumentation to make use of those sensors for measurement and automation purposes?