20 May 2002
9-11 stirs Sensors Expo kickoff
San Jose, Calif. - Sensors Expo Spring 2002 kicked off today with a program, not dominated by 9-11, but greatly influenced by that horrific event. Security, defense, and intelligence gathering conferences and products dotted the agenda.
U.S. government research and money is attending in the form of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Sandia National Laboratories, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and government contractors like Crossbow, Honeywell, Raytheon, and numerous others.
Said John S. Rinaldi, president of Real Time Automation: “We view the Navy as a solid and long-term customer for our technology. We are handling the software and interfaces for the ship systems networks on the soon to be commissioned carrier Ronald Reagan.” The ships are equipped with Profibus networks and Siemens programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
There are ubiquitous sensors (a.k.a. "smart dust") which scatter over large areas of terrain and gather data about that area. Somewhat similar, except they also network, are "microsensor motes", which monitor large areas and targets’ movements in that area. Others include a smart sensor chemical weapon detection network and the battlefield-ready personal digital assistants (PDAs).
All these products are wireless, which industry for the most part still fears – ironically, because of the possibility of security breaches. Industry is paying attention nonetheless, as there are clear fiscal advantages to non-hardwired sensing and systems. This week's expo features technical sessions and products aimed at such applications.
Funded research and development opens doors and checks the pathways. Entrepreneurs and industry hone and sift the processes for practical usage. That’s the beauty of these sorts of confabs.
As Veljko Milanovic, a researcher at the Nanoengineering Lab at UC Berkeley and founder of the Adriatic Research Institute said during his presentation on MEMS this morning, “The polysilicon hinge is a typical example of something that, when the paper came out in 1991, people said, ‘Yeah, that’s really neat but it’s completely useless’. Then, 10 years later, it’s an integral part of a technology and industry as it is now in microoptics.” – Nicholas Sheble
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