Here’s another military sf trope to add to the list of fictional gadgets gradually becoming a battlefield reality. This time it’s the turn of smart dust… though the team at Tel Aviv University have called it ‘smart dew’ instead:
Dozens, hundreds and even thousands of these Smart Dew sensors – each equipped with a controller and RF transmitter/receiver – can also be wirelessly networked to detect the difference between man, animal, car and truck.
Each individual “dew droplet” can detect an intrusion within a parameter of 50 meters (about 165 feet). And at a cost of 25 cents per “droplet,” Prof. Shapira says that his solution is the cheapest and the smartest on the market.
A part of the appeal of Smart Dew is its near-invisibility, Prof. Shapira says. “Smart Dew is a covert monitoring system. Because the sensors in the Smart Dew wireless network are so small, you would need bionic vision to notice them. There would be so many tiny droplets over the monitored area that it would be impossible to find each and every one.”
Not quite the nanoscopic modular machines of fiction, then, but surely their primitive progenitors. Not to mention another example of military hardware that will litter disputed regions for years to come… somehow I doubt they’ve done much planning about how to retrieve them all once their job is done. [image from linked article]