Like Spiderman, You Have Superhuman Senses

No, you didn’t get bitten by a radioactive spider, but you have superhuman senses.

You can detect the presence of a tiny speck of anthrax in a vast public space, or count the fish in a 4,000 square mile area. You can hear a gunshot hundreds of yards away and use your super-powerful vision to zoom in on a criminal as he tries to escape. You can look in the eyes of a person you’ve never met, and tell me her identity.

With every passing day, your superhuman senses will grow stronger. 

You are lucky enough to be alive during the birth of a new class of computers, called wireless sensors. They are multiplying faster than chocolate stains at a nursery school birthday party.

In the time it took me to write this far, the human race deployed thousands of new wireless sensors into the world. Some are old-hat sensors like burglar alarms and smoke detectors. Others extend and supercharge our senses in ways that seem ripped out of the pages of your favorite comic book.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a noise? Sensors are being added to forests – sometimes to study the behavior of wild animals – and the answer is a resounding yes.

Sensors called drifters have been floating on ocean currents for several years now, sending back information not only to researchers but also to elementary school classrooms. In the process, we are learning immense amounts about our oceans and climate.

Thanks to sensors, Air Force pilots in Colorado Springs now control drone planes that run bombing missions in Afghanistan; the pilots’ biggest problem is coming home to a normal family life at 5 pm, after operating in a war zone.

Sensors extend your senses to see the very little, and the very distant. They can detect pathogens at the molecular level, and monitor the Earth – or other planets – over vast distances. Pictures from satellites show the impact of human development on places such as Mexico City, Las Vegas and the Amazon.

Never before have you – or any other human – been able to see in such detail how our world changes from one day to the other, or one year to the next.

Three big changes are impacting the growth of your new superhuman senses:

1. Innovators are figuring out how to get sensors

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