8 Technologies to Help Save the World [02] Environmental Sensor Networks

12 02 2007

Air Sensor

Call it the networked environment. Picture tiny - we’re talking small as a dime - wireless sensors lining lake beds and ocean floors, buried in the ground, and floating in the air. All the time sniffing the air, water, and soil for chemicals and pollutants and detecting changes in temperature and pressure.

The payoff: real-time data on a variety of phenomena that affect the economy and society - climate change, hurricanes, air and water pollution. Scientists are capitalizing on advances in wireless tech and nanotechnology to build networks of these environmental sensors.

Arizona State University scientist Joe Wang has already deployed them in San Diego Bay and the canals of Venice to keep watch on heavy-metal levels and mercury contamination. Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of California at Berkeley, meanwhile, have created a coin-size solar cell that could power the transmitters for sensor networks that one day might monitor a river or a bay for leaking pipelines.

Cooler yet are solar-powered sensors that hover in the air. Ensco, a technology company based in Falls Church, Va., is developing a beach-ball-size gadget that gets its juice from thin-film solar panels and would measure weather patterns by probing the curve of a jet stream or the interior of a hurricane.

Via Business 2.0

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