Feeds

Intel plans tiny energy suckers to watch environs

Litter the planet

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Intel's research labs have worked on some truly sci-fi concepts in their time - shape-shifting micro-robots and online-gaming "anti-cheat" technology, to name just a pair.

Now the chip giant’s laying plans for tiny sensors that are capable of transmitting data on their surrounding environment while powered by ambient energy.

Intel’s chief technology officer Justin Rattner has revealed the company is combining two over-the-horizon technologies - wireless sensing and wireless power - into a single research initiative to deliver on its plan. The project is called the Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform, or WISP.

WISPs are tiny sensors designed to be embedded in anything from your home to your skull, where they'll report a wide variety of data to radio receivers to monitor anything from temperature and pollution levels to heart rate. As the technology shrinks, it may even be possible to have the little buggers keep an eye on viral infections.

Perhaps more revolutionary is they'll be powered, as Rattner put it, by "scavenging" energy not only from current-technology radio frequency identification (RFID) readers, but also from a wide variety of ambient-energy sources such as WiFi hotspots, cell towers, or TV broadcast signals - even from sunlight or body heat.

The advantages WISPs have over current sensing technologies include the fact that since they're self-powered they are, Rattner said, able to be "install-and-forget kind of systems." Also, since they're intended to be both inexpensive and tiny Rattner said "we could... litter the planet with these things."

Now, whether or not you think that littering the planet with billions of micro-spies is a good idea, you must admit that highly granular environmental data could be a good thing. For example, one implementation that Rattner proposed was a WISP-populated data center in which the tiny sensors would provide wide-ranging and instantaneous temperature data to a central controller, which could then balance computing loads with cooling capabilities.

As pie-in-the-sky as virus-detecting WISPs coursing through your gut may sound, Intel has already conducted one pilot project in San Francisco, where street sweepers were equipped with sensors that monitored air quality. Rattner projects that WISPs won't become marketable products for three to five years, but EETimes Europe has quoted him as saying that WISPs "might turn into a business opportunity" sometime in the future.

Just don't let your employer squirt one into your arm. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.