Sensors, Networks, and Clouds

Sensors, Networks, and Clouds

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6130-1.ch001
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This chapter presents an overview of the latest developments in sensor technologies and discusses issues, challenges, and potentials that sensors present for eAccessibility technologies. Going a step further, it also presents the challenges and potential that network technologies bring in combination with sensors. Given the developments in sensors and networks, it then proceeds to present the developments in the level of cloud technologies and semantics and how all these connected together are now starting to form what we today call the Internet and Web of Things. Starting from the low level of sensors, this chapter aims to zoom out to the bigger picture of Web of Things, Big Data, and Semantic technologies in order to help the reader understand the interconnection in the technologies and the potentials that all of them together present for the future.
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Begging our exploration to emerging and future technologies we will follow a bottom up approach starting from the lowest level of technologies that could enable a more accessible future. In that respect sensors can be considered the smallest and nearest to the real world technology. Sensors are actually the technology that can connect the real world with the digital world by sensing various environmental conditions and produce respective digital information.

Based on conclusions from the COST Foresight 2030 workshop series (“COST | COST Foresight 2030 - Living the Digital Revolution”, 2009), it is predicted that in near future nanoprocessors and sensors that currently are at the size of a grain of rice will decrease even further in size. This will make even easier their usage for a variety of applications and in a vast variety of products. Starting from our clothes and homes and continuing with work environments and public spaces, sensors will enable the monitoring and measuring of a series of variables and conditions related to our everyday lives. From personal weight, blood pressure and temperature to light conditions, location and proximity, sensors will be able to record and monitor our everyday lives without even being noticed. According to McKinsey Report, (McKinsey & Company, 2010) sensors could also be at the size of pills that will be swallowed and function within our bodies enabling the measurement of various other variables.

Such sensors, in combination with the ubiquitous internet connection will enable the development of even more user-centered products and applications aiming to help us improve our everyday lives. However, although the infrastructure for such sensors and connectivity seems to be very close there is still the problem of communication between all these sensors and their data in order for a network of products and people to be developed (Uckelmann, Harrison, & Michahelles, 2011).

In the following paragraphs we are going to present some of the opportunities and pitfalls that lie ahead in sensors technology.

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