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Day 1428 – Sensors and the Internet of Things – Ask Gramps
10th July 2020 • Wisdom-Trek © • H. Guthrie Chamberlain, III
00:00:00 00:13:58

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Welcome to Day 1428 of our Wisdom-Trek, and thank you for joining me.

This is Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom

Sensors and The Internet of Things – Ask Gramps

Wisdom - the final frontier to true knowledge. Welcome to Wisdom-Trek! Where our mission is to create a legacy of wisdom, to seek out discernment and insights, to boldly grow where few have chosen to grow before. Hello, my friend, I am Guthrie Chamberlain, your captain on our journey to increase Wisdom and Create a Living Legacy. Thank you for joining us today as we explore wisdom on our 2nd millennium of podcasts. Today is Day 1428 of our Trek, and our focus on Fridays is the future technological and societal advances, so we call it Futuristic Fridays. My personality is one that has always been very future-oriented. Since my childhood, I have yearned for the exploration and discovery of new technologies and advancements for the future. I grew up with the original Star Trek series, and even today, while I am on my 64th revolution around the sun, I still dream of traveling in space. Each week we will explore rapidly converging technologies and advancements, which will radically change our lives. At times, the topics may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but each area that we explore is already well on its way of becoming a reality over the next couple of decades.

To keep with our theme of “Ask Gramps,” I will put our weekly topics in the form of a question to get us on track. So this week’s question is: Hey Gramps, I am starting to hear about sensors and the Internet of Things. What does this refer to, and how will it change our future? 

Sensors and the Internet of Things

Last week on Futuristic Friday, we explored Smart Cities and how life, especially in cities, will be changing radically over the next couple of decades. Our world is in a disruptive mode, which will speed up the exponential technology that is changing our world today. I am using some of the information mentioned in Peter Diamandis’s blogs and book “The Future is Faster Than You Think.”, as a starting point.

Sensor Proliferation

Sensors will not only transform healthcare and diagnostics. Any electronic device that measures a physical, quantitative value—light, acceleration, temperature, then sends that information to other devices on a network, qualifies as a sensor. Sensors add intelligence to our appliances. But more importantly, they add hours to our lives.

Consider that in less than a decade, when you run out of coffee, your kitchen cabinet will detect a shortage (cross-referencing sensor data with your coffee-drinking habits) and order more. A blockchain-enabled smart contract will subsequently place an order, triggering an Amazon drone delivery directly to your doorstep.

If we extend this scenario further, let’s imagine that you have your very own Butler-bot who could soon transport these freshly ground beans from delivery box to cabinet, sparing you the trouble.

If advances in computing power, AI, and high-speed global networks represent the center mass of the digital revolution, then today’s sensor uprising is the outer edge of that revolt.

If we consider the first part of tomorrow’s smart environment information-processing pipeline, sensors are the data-gathering apparatus that provide our computers with the information they need to act.

Connected Devices and IoT

We are in the middle of a sensor revolution. The street name for this uprising is the “Internet of Things,” the vast mesh network of interconnected smart devices that will soon span the globe. Let’s back up a little because it’s worth tracing the evolution of this revolution to understand how far we’ve come.

Just 31 years ago, in 1989, John Romkey, one of the inventors of the transmission control protocol (TCP/IP), connected a Sunbeam toaster to the Internet, making it the very first IoT device.

Ten years later, sociologist Neil Gross saw the writing on the wall and made a now-famous prediction in the pages of Business Week: “In the next century, planet Earth will don an electric skin. It will use the Internet as a scaffold to support and transmit its sensations […] These will monitor cities and endangered species, the atmosphere, our ships, highways, and fleets of trucks, our conversations, our bodies—even our dreams.” To some of you, this may sound like a dystopia, but it doesn’t need to be. Just like the modern inventions that we use today would have been thought of as unimaginable a few decades ago, so will the proliferation of sensors and IoT.

A decade later, in 2009, Gross’ prediction bore out: the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on the planet (12.5 billion devices, 6.8 billion people, or 1.84 connected devices per person).

A year later, driven primarily by the evolution of smartphones, sensor prices began to plummet. By 2015, all this progress added up to 15 billion connected devices, with researchers at Stanford predicting 50 billion this year.

As most of these devices contain multiple sensors—the average smartphone has about twenty—this also explains why 2020 marks the debut of what’s been called “our trillion sensor world.”

Nor will we stop there. By 2030, those same Stanford researchers estimate 500 billion connected devices. And according to Accenture, this translates into a $14.2 trillion economy.

Hidden behind these numbers is precisely what Gross had in mind—an electric skin that registers just about every sensation on the planet. Consider optical sensors. The first digital camera, built in 1976 by Kodak engineer Steven Sasson, was the size of a toaster oven, took twelve black-and-white images, and cost over ten thousand dollars. Today, the average camera that accompanies your smartphone shows a thousand-fold improvement in weight, cost, and resolution.

These cameras are not reserved for our smartphones. They are everywhere: in cars, drones, phones, satellites— with uncanny image resolution not imagined a few years ago. Already, satellites photograph the Earth down to the half-meter or 18” range. Drone cameras shrink that to a centimeter or less than ½”. The LIDAR sensors atop autonomous cars are on track to capture just about everything—gathering 1.3 million data points per second, and registering change down to the single-photon level.


We see this triple trend—of plummeting size and cost, alongside mass increases in performance—everywhere.

The first commercial GPS was available to the public in 1981, weighing 53 pounds and costing $119,900. By 2010, just 30 years later, it had shrunk to a five-dollar chip small enough to sit on your finger.

The “inertial measurement unit” that guided our early rockets was a 50-pound, $20 million device in the mid-1960s. Today, the accelerometer and gyroscope in your cellphone do the same job, yet cost about four dollars and weigh less than a grain of rice. These trends are only going to continue. We’re moving from the world of the microscopic, to the world of the nanoscopic.

As a result, we’ve begun to see an oncoming wave of smart clothing, jewelry, and glasses. The Oura ring is one example, which is a whole new kind of sleep tracker that can measure blood flow and captures data at 250 times per second. Soon, these sensors will migrate to our inner bodies. Google Alphabet’s Verily Division is working on a miniaturized continuous blood glucose monitor that could assist people with diabetes in everyday treatment.

Research on smart dust, a dust-mote-sized system that can sense, store, and transmit data, has been progressing for years. Today, a “mote” is the size of an apple seed. Tomorrow, at the nano-scale, they’ll float through our bloodstream, exploring one of the last great terra incognita, or unexplored territory, which is the interior of the human body.

We’re about to learn a whole lot more, and not just about the body, but about everything. Remember, last week, I mentioned that data is the new currency, which is far more valuable than gold. The data captured from these sensors is beyond comprehension. An autonomous car generates four terabytes a day, which is the same as a thousand feature-length films’ worth of information. A commercial airliner: Forty terabytes. A smart factory: A petabyte. So what does this data haul get us? Plenty.

Doctors no longer have to rely on annual check-ups to track patient health, as even today, they now get a blizzard of quantified-self data streaming in 24-7. Farmers now know the moisture content in both the soil and the sky, allowing pinpoint watering for healthier crops, bigger yields, and—a critical factor in the wake of climate change—far less water waste.

In business, agility has been the most significant advantage. In times of rapid change, agile and nimble trumps slow and lumbering, every time. While knowing every available detail about one’s customers is an admitted privacy concern, it does provide organizations with an incredible level of dexterity, which may be the only way to stay in business in tomorrow’s accelerated times.

Final Thoughts

Within a decade, we will live in a world where just about anything that can be measured will be measured. It will be measured in real-time, all the time. It will not be your knowledge that matters, but rather the questions you ask. Asking questions has always been the key to knowledge, unfortunately, most persons are too busy speaking.

It’s a world of radical transparency, where privacy concerns will take on a whole new meaning. As Christ-followers, we should not fear transparency, for God already knows all about us.

From the edge of space to the bottom of the ocean to the inside of your bloodstream, our world’s emerging electric skin is producing a sensorium of endlessly available information. Riding rapid advances in AI, this “skin of sensors” possesses the machine learning required to make sense of that information. Welcome to the hyper-conscious planet.

God can and will use these technologies as we continue to establish His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. Although some of this information may make your head spin, it is happening and will only accelerate with each passing year. So let’s adopt the promises in 1 Peter 1:5-7 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

That is a wrap for today’s question. Join us again next Futuristic Friday for another interesting question about our future on our ‘Ask Gramps’ episode. Our next trek is Meditation Monday, where we will help you reflect on what is most important in life. So encourage your friends and family to join us and then come along on Monday for another day of ‘Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.’If you would like to listen to any of the past 1427 daily treks or read the associated journals, they are all available at I encourage you to subscribe to Wisdom-Trek on your favorite podcast player so that each day will be downloaded to you automatically.

Thank you for allowing me to be your guide, mentor, and, most of all, your friend as I serve you in through this Wisdom-Trek podcast and journal.

As we take this Trek of life together, let us always:

  1. Live Abundantly (Fully)
  2. Love Unconditionally
  3. Listen Intentionally
  4. Learn Continuously
  5. Lend to others Generously
  6. Lead with Integrity
  7. Leave a Living Legacy Each Day

I am Guthrie Chamberlain….reminding you to ’Keep Moving Forward,’ ‘Enjoy your Journey,’ and ‘Create a Great Day…Everyday’! See you on Monday!





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