Andreas Spanias (right), professor of electrical engineering and director of the Sensor, Signal and Information Processing Center, welcomes SENS MACH speakers Jose Vargas, Director of the Center for Electronics and Telecommunications (left) and Rafaela Villalpando Hernandez,  both from ITESM. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU.

Andreas Spanias (right), professor of electrical engineering and director of the Sensor, Signal and Information Processing Center, welcomes SENS MACH speakers Jose Vargas, Director of the Center for Electronics and Telecommunications (left) and Rafaela Villalpando Hernandez, both from ITESM. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU.

As the Internet of Things becomes the Internet of Everything and IoTivity bridges the chasm between smart phones, smart homes and smart cities into cloud, crowd and shroud computing, the minds behind the tech ponder where all the interconnections will lead.

The global arenas of food, medical care, clean energy, clean environment and disaster resilience will rely heavily on the interlinking of new of sensor and signal technologies over the next ten years.

Likewise, funding for ventures that solve such universal challenges are on the rise, according to Stephen Whalley, chief strategy officer at the MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) and Sensors Industry Group (MSIG) who, during the Sensors and Machine Learning Industry-University Workshop in Phoenix in November, laid out programs like the Dangote and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations’ commitment to end hunger in Nigeria by 2020.

A trade association, MSIG hosts Trillion Sensors (TSensors), an initiative focused on developing low-cost and new sensor types to address these critical areas – with global sensor development goals of seven trillion by 2017 and as many as 100 trillion by 2030.

The journey to TSensor began with the iPhone in 2007, according to Whalley. The original iPhone had three sensors—an accelerometer to rotate the screen based on the angle of the phone, a proximity sensor to turn on and off the display, and an ambient-light sensor to adjust brightness. “Today phones contain at least 28 sensors,” Whalley explained as an illustration of the growing importance of sensors in the smart universe.

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