It’s no secret to any budding smart home enthusiast that a successful home automation system is fully dependant upon good quality sensors. Without being able to detect the amount of light, temperature or motion, it’s impossible to create devices that would provide sufficient response to external factors.
Although the various sensors that are available today are good enough, looking at the direction that home automation technology is heading to, today’s sensors are soon going to run out of oomph. In the next few years the amount of data processed by home sensors is likely to quadruple. Emerging technology will also require sensors that are… well, more sensitive. Unless there is a scientific breakthrough we might hit a wall where further tech development is hampered by insufficiently capable sensors.
It is possible that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have an answer to this increasing demand. We’ve recently had our hands on a rather unassuming research paper exploring the age-old question of whether a human eye can register a single photon. You may ask what does it have to do with smart home sensors.
The answer is that developing biological sensors might be one of the directions to go for the scientists in quest for creating the next generation of sensors. They need to be small in size, consume minimum energy and be way more sensitive than today’s home sensors. Learning from the nature has provided many a good answer to scientific conundrums – come on, we wouldn’t have learned to fly had we not observed the nature and cracked the aerodynamic laws of birds’ wings. There are many examples like that out there.
Looks like biology is going to provide more and more answers as our technological know-how improves. So, looking at the particular experiment carried out by MIT, they did 30,000 trials to find that in almost 52% of the trial cases the subjects managed to correctly register single protons. It was a surprise – considering a photon has energy of just 10-19 Joules (which is a tiny tiny amount) – it shows the sheer potential of brain (and potentially other biological types of information processing). It is quite possible that a few years down the line your smart light bulbs and smart thermostat will be governed by an ultra-modern sensor based on human biology.