If you own a smartphone, you probably know just how smart those little gadgets are. They know where you’re standing, the direction you’re moving in and if you’re holding the phone vertically or horizontally.
To perform these clever tricks, the inside of your phone is stuffed with a number of sensors, which are little electronic components that can sometimes be as thin as a piece of paper.
The coming generation of mobile phones — and other gadgets for that matter — will have so many new types of smart sensors that your current mobile phone will look pretty dumb.
In a recent interview, Benedetto Vigna, general manager of the MEMS division of STMicroelectronics, a company based in Geneva that creates sensors for mobile devices and other consumer electronics, talked about some of the smart technologies we can expect to see.
Mr. Vigna said the next smartphones would have altimeter sensors that would be able to detect your elevation. “These sensors will tell people what floor they are on in a building, or could be used to more precisely determine where you are in relation to your friends on a location-based service,” he said.
Other sensors built into your next-generation phone could include heart monitors to keep tabs on your health. There will also be sensors that can detect perspiration and could be used to monitor your excitement level and even mood. Additionally, phones will include more microphones, and temperature and humidity sensors to better determine their location and surroundings.
This sensor-filled world will also affect video games. Sensors that can detect mood and excitement will usher in an era of video games that will factor in emotion during gameplay.
Mr. Vigna said some technology companies were working on ways to increase security and privacy on mobile phones with sensors. One way to do this is to build software that detects how you hold and interact with the device — almost like a motion fingerprint. After you use a new phone for a short period of time, it will start to learn your patterns and automatically lock or unlock the phone accordingly. This could be used for more secure banking too.
As I’ve written in the past, it’s only a matter of time before these sensors move beyond the smartphone and into people’s clothes, glasses and homes. ”Sensors will be everywhere in the next few years and will be able to help people become more conscious of the environment and our own health,” explained Mr. Vigna. “Your socks, shoes, glasses and even your garbage can will have sensors inside designed to help you manage everything from your effects on the environment to your health.”
The Sensors Are Coming! - NYTimes.com