Digital sensors, once imagined as information-gathering devices that would cover the world like "smart dust," are becoming closer to reality through corporate and university research such as Hewlett-Packard's "Central Nervous System for the Earth" project. "It does feel almost like the beginning of the Internet," says IBM's Katharine Frase. "You can see that sensor computing is going to be important and useful, but it's not possible to see in advance just how it will transform things."

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