Called a "wireless identification and sensing platform," or WISP, the devices were among several technologies described Friday by Intel CTO Justin Rattner during a meeting with reporters in San Francisco. Most of the technologies discussed are under development in Intel labs and are unlikely to reach the marketplace in products for at least three to five years.
All of the inventions were designed to be energy-efficient. The WISP sensors would use Intel technology for drawing power from the environment. "These are install-and-forget kind of systems," Rattner said.
The power would come from wireless transmissions, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot, a cellular tower, or a TV broadcast, making it possible for the sensors to continuously gather information in almost any environment, Rattner said.
In an experiment conducted by Intel in San Francisco, sensors implanted in street sweepers were used to monitor air quality throughout the city.
"We could, in fact, litter the planet with these things," he said. "Rather than depend on satellite information, we could literally get instantaneous, near-global indication of the state of the planet."