- Balázs Farkas
Is Smart Dust Today's Future?
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects different devices, machines, and buildings, providing a new way of collecting and using data. The most innovative application of the IoT is smart dust. It consists of a huge number of microscopic sensors, composing a network in order to obtain data.
These little sensors, called ‘motes’, could revolutionise industry, because they will have access to places, that are unreachable with current technology, due to their size of a grain of sand. They can be used well by monitoring. For instance, oil wells can be monitored by motes to improve productivity. In the field of agriculture, smart dust can have an important role to save crops from pests. Besides this, using motes can have a positive effect on our health providing a constant observation on different organs. Scientific research is also becoming faster by using smart dust. Effects of natural disasters like wildfires or a volcanic eruptions could be better estimated. It is also a possibility to put smart dust on insects in order to observe their behaviour. Even space exploration can profit from the benefits of this new technology.
On the other hand, it has some drawbacks, as well; several problems emerge from the microscopic size. According to The New Economy, the lifespan of these motes are limited because it is difficult to find a right way to provide them enough power. Decreasing the size of batteries is quite hard, therefore scientists are eager to find external energy resources for smart dust by applying energy harvesting sensors, which gain energy from ambient light, heat or motion. Their microscopic size and nanotechnology also mean a high product cost, which makes it harder for the new technology to become widely used. It is also an unsolved question, how smart dust could be detected and retrieved after usage. When it will be widely used, privacy issues will definitely come up, because anywhere and anytime, there is the chance to be observed without noticing it. It will result in an enormous amount of data gathered by companies using smart dust, so they have to be controlled appropriately in the interest of the people’s privacy.
Overall, we do not have to fear about smart dust trickling down to costumers, because it will not be available so rapidly in the near future. However, having these innovations in our everyday life will be unavoidable sooner or later, so it is better to prepare ourselves for it sooner, rather than later.