We are entering the age of ubiquitous sensing. Smart sensors will soon track our health and wellness, enable autonomous cars, and monitor machines, buildings, and bridges. Massive networks of small, inexpensive sensors will enable large-scale global data collection — impacting the distribution of agriculture and water, environmental monitoring, disaster recovery, disease-outbreak detection and intervention, and the operation of cities. With this change in mind, MIT is creating a singular hub to unite experts as they develop a new generation of sensors, and sensing and measurement technologies.
On May 25-26, SENSE.nano will debut, marking the first “center of excellence” powered by MIT.nano, the 214,000 square-foot research facility taking shape in the heart of MIT campus. The center will empower people in the MIT community, engage industry leaders, and educate the public.
“There is a thing we do extremely well at MIT: We lock arms and make progress that is beyond the scope of any one researcher,” says Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor in the Department of Chemistry.
“If you look at what’s happening with sensors, you’ll see that many different disciplines have to come together. Ubiquitous sensing has so many aspects — chemical, biological, physical, radiological,” he says. “With all this sensing research going on, we need a place to coordinate our synergies.”
As part of the kickoff, a full-day symposium will feature experts discussing technical challenges, commercial and humanitarian needs, and the societal impact of ubiquitous sensor and sensing systems. In a nod to the everyday impact of this technology, NPR journalist Tom Ashbrook will lead a broad discussion on “Sensing, Society, and Technology.”
“Novel sensors and sensing systems will provide previously unimaginable insight into the condition of individuals and the built and natural worlds, positively impacting people, machines, and the environment,” says Brian W. Anthony, a principal research engineer at MIT and director of the Advanced Manufacturing and Design program, who is coleading the new center.
SENSE.nano will support collaboration between people from a range of specialty areas — engineering, business, Earth science, electronics, computation, nanoscience, materials science, neuroscience, chemistry, physics, computer science, biology, and advanced manufacturing.
“We want to use this event as an opportunity to strengthen the community and improve our connection to the local innovation and manufacturing ecosystem,” adds Anthony. “And to accelerate the rate at which our new sensing technologies and innovations are scaled-up and go out and impact the IoT enabled industries, advanced instrumentation, and beyond.”
Vince Roche, CEO of Analog Devices, and Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, founder of the Deshpande Foundation, will offer morning and afternoon keynotes. Framing the broad impact and opportunity of sensing technologies to the U.S. economy and the world’s societal needs. Analog Devices, a semiconductor company cofounded by Raymond S. Stata, is a cornerstone company in sensor products and advanced manufacturing in Massachusetts.
“It is time for people to reach out and find the best ways to collaborate,” he says. “We’re looking for input from the community, sensor and sensing system manufacturers, government, academe, and researchers to help us define the grand challenge focus areas within SENSE.nano.”