'Invisible magic' in a Networked World

Nov 04, 2005

All the things we use in our everyday lives will one day be networked with one another. “They will perceive their environment, process data and communicate with one another,” explains computer researcher Friedemann Mattern in an interview in the Siemens research magazine Pictures of the Future. “That will seem like invisible magic to us.”

One of the visionary ideas from experts specializing in distributed systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) is a lawn sprinkler equipped with a sensor that measures moisture in the ground. At the same time, the sprinkler obtains a weather report from the Internet and uses this information to calculate when it should water the lawn, and how much water it should dispense.

Mattern is a firm believer in the fusion of microelectronics, sensor technology, new materials and wireless communications. “That automatically leads to ‘smart objects’ of this kind,” he says. We could, of course, continue to get by without networked objects, but “our pursuit of safety, status, comfort and entertainment will lead to a point where many such applications become accepted practice.” That’s because networking is what provides the real added value — just as the value of a human being is far greater than the sum of the cells in a person’s body.

The only technical obstacles the expert sees lie in the power supply for the devices. “In terms of resolving the energy problem — meaning lower power consumption and longer battery life — things are moving more slowly than I’d like,” Mattern says. And he doesn’t find the various networking scenarios ominous, because he believes we will never be entirely dependent on “intelligent things” – our environment will always be able to function without the help of intelligent systems.

Explore further: Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Secrets of dinosaur ecology found in fragile amber

19 minutes ago

Ryan McKellar's research sounds like it was plucked from Jurassic Park: he studies pieces of amber found buried with dinosaur skeletons. But rather than re-creating dinosaurs, McKellar uses the tiny pieces ...

Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery

21 minutes ago

Venus is hiding something beneath its brilliant shroud of clouds: a first order mystery about the planet that researchers may be a little closer to solving because of a new re-analysis of twenty-year-old ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

7 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

19 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

20 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

20 hours ago

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

Oct 24, 2014

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

Oct 24, 2014

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0