Environmental sensors are used everywhere from heavy industry to UAVs hunting the troposphere for water vapor. The new postage-stamp sized, self-powered, flexible wireless sensor unveiled today by Japan's Green Sensor Network Laboratories could make home applications a breeze, letting you measure the humidity of your greenhouse or make sure your pipes don't burst in a winter freeze.
The sensor, about as thick as a credit card, has a three-layer construction composed of a microprocessor, a flexible antenna, and a power-generating semiconductor nanofiber. The flexible construction allows the sensor to be attached to surfaces like a sticker, and once deployed, data is transmitted wirelessly. The sensor can be configured to monitor things like temperature, CO2, infrared light or dust levels, and at under $10 a piece, you could network a whole gang of them for highly-detailed data. Current prototypes generate about 80% of the electricity needed, but the research team intends the sensors to be self-powered by launch time.
So whether you're planning on measuring industrial smog output or you just want to see how hot your apartment gets during a summer workday, these sensor-stickers could someday let you put a gauge on pretty much anything, though we're not sure when they might reach production. [PhysOrg]