In a matter of years, more computer intelligence will be embedded in places that we never imagined (or maybe we've imagined it, but it's years from reality): household devices, highways, even the human body.
Many years from now, when I have grandchildren, I'll likely be telling stories about the "old days" when we actually had to turn on the lights using a light switch or start cars using keys or push buttons on a microwave to heat something up or put paper documents in mailboxes in front of our houses. They'll probably laugh and think, "How old-fashioned!" In a matter of years, more computer intelligence will be embedded in places that we never imagined (or maybe we've imagined it, but it's years from reality): household devices, highways, even the human body.
Of course, there's already plenty of intelligence around us in our daily lives, including voice-activated GPS systems, car engines, home-security systems, medical and surgical devices, and other things we don't necessarily think of as computer technology. Already the lines are blurring between consumer electronics and the home computer. Intel is working on a concept that lets consumers play games, record TV shows, and check E-mail, all thanks to a single chip. Bill Gates contends that "we're only beginning to realize computing's potential. I believe that we're entering an era when software will fundamentally transform almost everything we do."
Indeed, software is being embedded in places to improve security, eliminate human surveillance, track inventory, and more. In "Sensors Everywhere", senior writer Aaron Ricadela explores how wireless sensor-network technology is at the frontier of computer networking research.
Projects are under way to use these devices to secure U.S. borders, monitor oil-refinery equipment, track warehouse goods, monitor hazardous materials, and detect earthquakes. Today, the possibilities seem limitless.
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