In working on this slideshow, I was amazed how the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, for this one brief moment, is really influential and a good example of these trends: it has humidity and temperature sensors, IR sensors for gesture recognition, ambient light sensors, the usual sensors that make the camera work, pressure (barometer), accelerometers -- all i need is my fuel cell sensor so the phone can be its own breathalyzer. If you get a chance, take a look at iFixit's teardown photos here. It's a pretty amazing piece of engineering.
The idea of putting temperature and humidity sensor is kinda mindboggling.
The benefit of having it in a mobile device, with the combination of gps data, temperature and humidity in any location can be precisely measured and logged. Yet, when it is in a smartphone, the challenge is no one knows where the phone is currently kept. There will certainly be temperature difference when it is kept in the front pocket of man's shirt vs when it is kept in a woman's purse.
The FLIR One infrared camera attachment for the iPhone sounds like a wonderful device (especially since it is supposed to be able to overlay the IR image on the visible image). I can see a wide variety of artistic, scientific, and practical uses for the device. I am, however, daunted by the reported $349 price. I guess I'll have to be one of the later adopters when the price comes down. In the meantime, I'm using my $36 laser pyrometer (Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector) to remotely measure temperatures for energy conservation and just dreaming about false color IR images on my phone.
The Bosch MEMS sensor which can report atmospheric pressure for use in determining altitude (floor of a building) sounds like a very interesting addition to our repertoire of handheld SmartPhones. It also provides an interesting object lesson in atmospheric pressure in SI units. The article mentions "discrimination of plus or minus 0.12 hPA, which equates to plus or minus 1 meter of altitude". Not being familiar with "hPA" (which looked like a typo for kPA), I investigated further. Indeed hectopascals (hPA) exist and are commonly used in aviation and meterology; they are 1/10 of a kilopascal (kPA). These sensors, however, will have to compensate for the weather induced barometric pressure changes. Today's weather map shows sea level atmospheric pressure varying from 1017 hPA to 1028 hPA (corresponding to an altitude uncertainty of 100 meters or about 30 building floors) - to say nothing of any positive pressure produced by the HVAC system within the building.
With the chemical and biological sensors under development, the SmartPhone "Tricorder" envisioned in Star Trek is getting closer by the day. Already medical attachments are being developed for SmartPhones which are compact and can be deployed in remote locations to improve healthcare.
Remote healthcare is one of the under-appreciated, up-and-coming areas that isn't quite enough of a trend to merit its own place on this slideshow, but could definitely be on here in a year or two. You're right, it's going to require a little bit of time, but it is coming fast.
That price is definitely going to go down. In the meantime, it is worth keeping one's eyes open for newer devices that resemble that same solution but maybe offer a little something extra that this one doe snot. The thing about sensors is that the market is so segmented and fractured you might not notice when someone is doing something quite similar right next door because next door is far away according to the way the industry aligns itself.
With so many sensors measuring humidity, temperature, acceleration, ambint light, gestures and what not - why we keep calling that device as a smart"phone".
We should now start calling smart phones as something else because calling somebody has become one of the simplest tasks of such devices . They are slowly becoming like a handheld laboratory full of so many varied instruments capable of doing many varied tasks.
How about calling them as PERSONAL ASSISTANTS (PA) ?