Today we coddle our computers. They are fragile and expensive, so each typically belongs to an owner who looks after it. When we need to connect many of them into a single system, we hire experts and set aside large amounts of time and money for the job. The sheltered cyberworld of computers still hardly intersects with the real world of birds and trees, ships and bridges.
Where the two worlds do connect, it is often because people have carefully altered objects and methods of work to be computer-friendly. Stores stick bar codes on everything they sell or ship. Warehouse clerks attach radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to pallets. Tagged goods must then funnel through a few scanners so that the computers can do their accounting.
This article was originally published with the title Smart Sensors to Network the World.