Hewlett-Packard's 2010 research annual report includes an interesting concept that revolves around CeNSE (Central Nervous System for the Earth). CeNSE is in its initial stages and could be carried much farther.
The concept, revealed in HP Lab's recap of projects, boils down to this: HP aims to “provide a new level of environmental awareness” via a network of cheap sensors and data storage gear.
That infrastructure will be enhanced by analysis tools. The goal: Create “a Moore’s Law for sensing,” says HP, which is focusing on the networking fabric to make this effort work. Similar efforts are being researched and proposed by IBM and others. In the not-too-distant future, every physical item will have a sensor to create the Internet of things. The trick will be analyzing all this data and finding something actionable via these network sensor nodes (right).
According to HP, CeNSE is a collaboration between HP and Shell. The idea is to acquire high-resolution seismic data on land. That's the commercial application, but the bigger picture is that CeNSE could provide a picture of existing and alternative energy sources. In other words, CeNSE could be a resource inventory system. The big question is who will connect all of these sensors and make them compatible across products and assets.
HP's R&D focus is on creating products, but if you take the CeNSE project to its extreme you could wire sensors around the world to monitor environmental conditions. In its report, HP says CeNSE applies its "nanotechnology expertise to push the boundaries of cost, size, power consumption and integration to create more capable sensor nodes." Analyzing these sensors could improve safety, sustainability and security.
Related: HP Labs: A look at its big bets