About this video

In Peter Hartwell’s ideal world, sensor technology will be integrated into every aspect of our lives. In this fascinating video, the lead scientist of HP’s Central Nervous System for the Earth (CeNSE) project shares the potential of the technology and how we will one day be able to listen to the “heartbeat of the earth.”


Directing HP Labs Central Nervous System for the Earth project, Peter Hartwell is building a planetwide sensing network using billions of tiny, cheap, tough and exquisitely sensitive detectors. Hartwell envisions sensing nodes about the size of a pushpin stuck to bridges and buildings to warn of structural strains or weather conditions. They might be scattered along roadsides to monitor traffic, weather and road conditions. Embedded in everyday electronics, CeNSE nodes might track hospital equipment, sniff out pesticides and pathogens in food, or even “recognize” the person using them and adapt.

CeNSE was selected one of 20 “World Changing Ideas” in the December 2009 issue of Scientific American. Peter has extensive experience in commercializing silicon MEMS products, working on advanced sensors and actuators, and specializes in MEMS testing techniques. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1992 with a B.S.E in Materials Science and from Cornell University in 1999 with a Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering. He did brief post doctoral work at HP Labs before joining the staff in 2000. His work at HP has been documented in numerous technical papers, patents, and articles in publications such as The New York Times, Forbes, IEEE Spectrum, and EETimes.


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The BIF Summit blends storytelling, co-creation, and random collisions of unusual suspects, creating the conditions for us together to imagine a better future. A future that represents a diversity of perspectives, views, identities and experiences across industries, sectors and disciplines.

19:02 | BIF-6 |

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