In a connected world, the atmosphere is made of smart dust

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I came across this article recently that highlights where connectivity could go, even beyond the 50 billion connected things expected to be on the planet by 2020.

The author described something called Smart Dust. Tiny microscopic sensors floating through our cities, tracking and collecting all kinds of data.

“He and his team use Dust, portable packets of sensors that float in the air throughout the entire city and track movement, biometric indicators, temperature change and chemical composition of everything in their city.“

The scene described in the article is fiction but the concept of Smart Dust is not. Tiny devices so small they are invisible to the eye but have enough RAM, wireless capabilities and the ability to run tiny operating systems. They aren’t suited towards running processor intensive functions but they are perfectly capable of gathering data and sending it back to a base station.

This makes the idea of the Internet of Things and 50 billion connected things seem a bit passé. Phones, fitness devices, home thermostats, the smart TV in your living room, your car in the driveway – all connected – is one thing. But imagine trillions of tiny smart devices the size of dust particles floating around the planet, that all need to connect and share data. This is why API languages like RAML, which are discoverable and self-describing, are so important. If a device can broadcast its API and capabilities to other devices using a common language that those other devices can understand, it greatly simplifies integration. It goes beyond how to connect, it means understanding how to communicate, function and control each other.

The world may soon be quantified by sensors, floating in the wind. Now that’s going to be a real integration challenge.


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