SensorsGov Not Just for Government

The second SensorsGov show (December 6–8) aimed to help engineers and managers in all sectors of government—from military to health monitoring to transportation. But most of the discussion applied to nongovernment engineers, too.

Attendees heard an inspiring assessment of where advanced sensor technology is taking us in Dennis Bushnell's opening-day plenary talk. Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center, covered data fusion (integrating data from multiple sensors), multiphysics and hyperX sensors (X standing for spectral, sensitive, and resolution), nano RF tags ("with 138 digits you can identify every molecule on the planet"), quantum technology, "brilliant materials," thought control of computerized devices (see Thought-Controlled Prosthetics), the emerging "ubiquitous global sensor grid" he says will increasingly roboticize warfare, and several sensors evolving to "read minds."

Dr. Jamie Downs, Regional Medical Examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rode the wave of the popular CSI television shows with his keynote, which discussed technologies that advance forensics work. He spoke about how 3D RF mapping (using a wand to trace items) can augment photography, to help investigators recreate a scene digitally for reference after details might be forgotten. He also discussed how a sensor for detecting optic-nerve hemorrhaging, an indicator for shaken-baby syndrome, could save three of four babies who survive shaking incidents.

In another plenary, Andrew O'Neill, Senior Science Advisor at Alion Science & Technology, discussed tradeoffs of wireless sensor networks. As expected, wireless was a theme in the exhibits, too.

Plenty of exhibits covered other technologies and services. One of these showcased the National Association of Sensor Science and Technology (NASST), a new association for users and vendors, and Dawnbreaker, a firm helping SBIR and STTR beneficiaries commercialize their work. (