Trend #1 – Sensors everywhere

I have talked before about the lowering cost and ubiquitous appearance of small sensors…accelerometers, compasses, and more. These are exploding right now in the form of health and fitness monitors, but are starting to expand into toys (Little Bits and ATOMS) and other lower price point devices. Combine these with 3D visual sensors like the Leap and the Kinect (always keep in mind that anything that acts as a controller can also act as a sensor) and you’ve got the potential for measuring more and more things about the world and people in your libraries.

One of the recurring themes that I’ve seen thusfar at CES2013 is just that _everything_ now has robust digital sensors that measure movement, tilt, direction, and even heat and pressure. These are showing up everywhere, and the fact that they can be sold in a toy for about $10 should show that their ubiquity is likely to keep growing.

I’ve talked about my idea for building a “watch the shelves” system from a Kinect and a small server, and remain convinced that there is something about to happen regarding the ability to generate and analyze new and interesting pieces of data about the physical spaces in libraries. With more and more ways to easily and cheaply measure movement and interaction within our spaces, there is the potential for better and better use of the spaces in question. Of course, the flip side of that is that we may discover that some of our sacred cows aren’t nearly as valuable as we imagine them to be.

If you COULD measure movement of people inside your library, what would you measure? Movement through stacks seems the most obvious, but what other uses could we put cheap people counters to? What other information should we be collecting?


About this entry