“Imagine a world where wireless devices are as small as a grain of salt,” writes futurist Bernard Marr in Forbes, describing a technology that will revolutionize the Internet of Things, often referred to as IoT, which are autonomous devices connected to the internet that transmits data without human interaction.
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), often called motes, are real and coming soon; this will either excite you or instill ‘Minority Report’ fear in you, but the technology is already being researched by companies like IBM, General Electric, and Cisco.
Equipped with miniature sensors, MEMS can identify everything from light to vibrations to temperature. While similar devices like Nest thermostats or Alexa are already equipped in almost every household, what makes MEMS different is their autonomous power packed into a device measured in millimeters.
Add that to a device that’s suspended in the air like a particle of dust and that are made via 3D printing, and you have MEMS and very likely anxiety-inducing fears of what the future holds.
Aside from sensors, the devices are also equipped with optical lenses that can achieve high-quality images or videos similar to those taken from modern-day smartphones. The sensors can also collect data, including acceleration, stress, pressure, humidity, and audio.
While real-world use of this technology would benefit industries like compliance, safety, and productivity, it also opens the floodgates for almost certain surveillance from government entities and law enforcement. It’s essentially IoT on steroids.
In a world where privacy advocates are already challenging drone surveillance and facial recognition, MEMS is like multiplying the Internet of Things a billion times over. While MEMS has benefits, Bernard Barr also lists the disadvantages in his Forbes article.