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Declining sensor costs open up new consumer applications

Gigaom

One of the factors in the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT)—the networking of the physical world within existing Internet infrastructure—is the rapid decline in the cost of sensors.

Sensors are critical to IoT. Consider a connected thermostat: Without motion, humidity and temperature sensors, there is no data that algorithms can use to set points tailored to a user’s behavior.

In some cases sensor costs have declined by as much as 100X over the past decade. One of those cases where a startup is attempting to drastically change the economics of sensors is in the area of near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. If that phrase sounds familiar, it may be because of all the attention SCiO is getting.

Designed and assembled in Israel by startup Consumer Physics, SCiO is an NIR spectrometer for consumers, set to roll out by summer 2015 for $249 per unit. NIR spectrometry detects the spectrum created from…

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How the MTA Introduced the Touch Screen to New York City

Longreads

In a recent piece for Next City writer and illustrator Aaron Reiss looks at the design of the MTA’s automated ticket kiosk. As a germaphobe, Reiss hates the amount of screen-touching the MTA kiosk requires, but as he investigates the history of the machine and meets with its creator he begins to understand the reasoning behind the design:

The first thing [the machine’s creator, industrial designer Masamichi] Udagawa did was to provide some context for the realities of New York City in the late 1990s, when the MTA ticket vending system was being developed. What I hadn’t realized before was exactly how novel these machines were at the time.

“This was the first time a touchscreen was really [going to be] introduced to the public [in New York City],” remembered Udagawa. “When [the MTA ticket] machine came out in 1999, 50 percent of subway riders didn’t have bank accounts, so…

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