The Fine Line Between Inanity And Innovation

Sensors Insights by Mat Dirjish

April first, affectionately known as April Fools' Day, was this past Tuesday and I'm sure you've had your fill of pranks. This is the day many an unsuspecting man, woman, and child may be asked to "look over there" and then taunted with the phrase "made ya' look" and "do you wanna' save 15% on your car insurance"? Many a finger, and a leg or three, gets pulled and overall there are many other puns pulled ranging from benign to bombastic. In other words, fun and laughs should be had by all.

The world of electronics had its share of techno jollies as well. Hopefully many of you read Sony's announcement regarding the "Latest In Fuel Technology".

As per Sony Electronics, it created the Voltaic Enzyme. This miracle formulation allegedly transfers energy from foodstuffs to your portable electronics. To package this e-mazing enzyme, Sony created Sony Power Food, a specially designed line of human consumables that will feed you and charge up your devices anywhere. I guess that means one does not need to be in the kitchen, office lunch room, or school cafeteria when eating and charging.

If your device is running low on power, you just plug it into one of Sony's Power foods that you happen to be eating at the moment. Cakes, crunchy cereal, and protein energy bars are a few of the munchables you can hook up to, all of which can be purchased from your local grocer and, of course, the Sony Store.

Obviously it's all a hoax and Sony closed its announcement with the disclaimer, "This non-factual news release is issued by Sony Electronics and is an acknowledged spoof press release for April Fool's Day!" It's nice to know that a big company like Sony has a sense of humor.

More sensor related and by far my favorite April-first innovation came by way of a team effort from Internet Protocol for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance and Grid Connect. They pooled their collective talents and techno savvy to offer up the PKE Smart Sensor. According to the two companies, this stellar little device "will take Internet of Things into the next dimension". More accurately, they are shooting for commercial space in the afterlife.

Just when you thought you had every necessary state-of-art security device for your home, here comes the Psychokinetic Energy (PKE) Smart Sensor. This cunning creation will allow home owners, apartment dwellers, and business owners to monitor their respective environments for any paranormal activity, i.e., spooks, spirits, ghosts, and potential evil doers from the 'great beyond'. I'd like to see Sony's crunchy cereal find those nasty spirits who discharge your portables' power sources when you are not looking (made ya look!). It goes without saying that this miracle, ghost-busting sensor is currently under patent review.

Adam Justice, Vice President of ConnectSense/Grid Connect, affirms, "By connecting our PKE Smart Sensor to the cloud, our customers can now monitor paranormal sightings remotely, using common devices such as the smart phone. If there's something strange in your neighborhood, you will be alerted immediately". He adds, "We are excited to partner with the IPSO Alliance and expand their mission to build a smarter after-world through the Internet of Things."

Figure 1: PKE 2000

Product Specifications - PKE 2000

Sensitivity: up to 300 meter detection zone
Quadcore technology - track multiple entities simultaneously Astral Positioning System enables real time map tracking/Google maps overlay
Connecting multiple systems enables wider coverage
Sends alerts via SMS and Twitter to avoid supernatural interference
False positive detection software filters out non psychokinetic activity
Internet enabled
iPhone/Android Applications
Supports optional Home Entity Management System (HEMS)
Google Glass and IP-based actuator interfaces: sense activity, record and share

Unfortunately, "This communication is intended strictly in humor; with deference to Columbia Pictures. All similarities to products or persons, living or undead are purely fictional". I say unfortunately because I personally informed a spokesperson from IPSO that if this sprite sensor could also detect vampire, werewolf, warlock, witch, republican, and democrat activity, I would buy two: one for the house and one for the car.

So, once again, it's all in good fun, or is it? Sure, it's laughable today to think you could charge the battery in your smartphone by dunking it in a bowl of cereal that, hopefully, stays crunchy in milk. But who had the idea "smartphone" on their minds twenty years ago, or even ten?

At this point in time there seems to be no readily available foodstuff, be it low-fat, sugar- or gluten-free, low-cholesterol, or otherwise healthy, that you can directly charge a tablet or smartphone with. However, a very intelligent person once told me that whatever the human mind can imagine, or think of, can and eventually will be created. Things like Dick Tracy's video watch/phone and the Star Trek communicator. Believe it or not, most of the high-tech gadgets in the early James Bond films were in practical use before the movies were made.

Electronic gear for detecting and monitoring what some believe to be paranormal or metaphysical activity is available on the market. Actually, most of it is general test and detection equipment for capturing energy fluctuations. Instruments include EMF detectors, temperature and motion sensors, static electricity and ionization sensors, listening devices, RF meters, and radiation monitors.

As more researchers become involved with metaphysical and paranormal investigations, more specialized instruments will be created. It should be clear that sensors of all type will find employment in these devices. There may be a new, untapped market that the analysts will soon be jumping on. Who knows?

Whether you believe in paranormal events, spirits, or invisible forces, or things that go boom in the night, and whether these devices are effective in monitoring anomalies in the atmosphere is open for both debate and empirical testing. But who knows what we may eventually find, think up, imagine, and create? Kind of scary in a fun kind of way, maybe the ghosts will be afraid of us for a change? ~MD

Figure 2: BOO!!

About the Author
Mat Dirjish is Executive Editor of Sensors magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].