This is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the possibilities when these "trillion sensors" are combined with things like "big data," mobile, visualization and gamification etc. For example, one of many intriguing possibilities is that of "self quantification."
DocDivakar: I'm glad I'm not the only one here with a healthy dose of skepticism. Whether it's 50 trillion or 1 trillion, I think folks need to remember that a trillion is a very large number. While I certainly think it's possible to make use of 250 sensors per person or more, the cost-effectiveness often proves to be the difference between what we could do and what we actually accomplish. Personally, I'd rather see an end to world hunger and universal education before we start ramping up to trillions of sensors.
@Tom, we have already crossed several billions of sensors in mobiles. In India alone, there are close to 800 million handsets. Of course not all of them are smart phones with sensors but the worldwide market is touching a billion. The high end phones have as many as 15 sensors in them. The low end smart phones which are already proliferating in the developing economies tend to have less but will easily cross the billions of sensors number nonetheless.
What I do take issue with is the unrealistic number like 50 trillion that I have heard mentioned before in one of the sensors conferences. Granted there will be sensors every where as proclaimed by the Internet of Things proponents, I find it very hard to believe reaching 50 trillion. If that number is reachable, we have to ask ourselves one simple question: what is each sensor going to be priced at? The entire world economy produced a GDP of ~$75 trillion in 2012! That leads me to believe that these trillions of sensors better be priced at $0.01 each!
This concept of senors on the skin reminds me of when RFID first came out. I was at an IMS show many many years ago, and someone was demonstrating how an RFID tag was used to track a cow. I turned to him and asked, and how long do you think it will be before people want to insert these in people? babies? He looked absolutely horrified....
@Susan: That is a fantastic commercial. Thanks for sharing! :) Hope this doesn't happen. :)
Yesterday I was sharing the same topic (about printable sensors on human skin) with a few of my colleagues. One person who is working on making functional safety compliant products and always concerned about "failures" and "FMEA"s promptly asked: what if such a sensor which would gather important health related data & transmit to doctor's monitoring device somewhere is remote place malfunctions? Would it not cause unnecessary stress for both? shall we then have redundant sensors then? :)...unfortunately we had to stop our conversation there :)
A trillion? Really? Let's get to a billion first, then 10 billion, then ask me again. I've heard way too many optimistic forecasts of the future that never came true. One trillion would be about 145 sensors for every person on the planet, all connected. It's connecting them that's tricky. On the plus side, we probably wouldn't need mobile phones anymore.
Reminds me of that Washington Mutual commercial (remember Washington Mutual?): The bankers are scanning customers' heads, after first stapling a barcode to their foreheads. Great commercial, maybe a little too true...