Thanks to the tremendous efforts of numerous scientists and technologists, sensor technology has now arrived in its childhood, which means that we expect that it has started a long period of growth in the intellectual and technological level of sensor systems and that it will reach a level of maturity. It is difficult to predict where this growth will end and what the final stage will look like. For the near future, we expect to see the development of autonomous sensors integrated into distributed systems with intelligent signal processors and smart control of actuators, and powered with a minimum amount of energy. For the longer term, we picture sensor systems as being components of robots in which the system architecture strongly resembles that of animals or human beings.

Of course, such ideas are not new. We can even ask ourselves why it is taking so long for such developments to happen. Is it the difficulty of making a significant step in the level of technology? Could it be possible that the introduction of nanotechnology, in which we can organize technical matter all the way down to the atom level, will bring us the new future we are looking for?

Nobody knows for sure, but it is clear that an important reason for the ‘slow’ progress in sensor technology can be found in the multidisciplinary character of the required knowledge. It requires the cooperation of physicists, chemists, electrical and mechanical engineers, and ICTers. Moreover, these engineers have to cooperate ...

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