Most of us are carry around smartphones that, being smart, are smart enough to take care of us without us even realizing it. Having access to cheap and ubiquitous sensors has created an entirely new way for us to manage ourselves, and the next step might be smart carpets? Yes, carpets.
Researchers at the University of Manchester have created a special sort of carpet that has a two dimensional light grid underneath it with sensors along the edges. When you walk on the carpet, your feet block different parts of the light grid, and the carpet can form a two-dimensional image of your feet. The data the carpet collects are detailed enough that, over time, it can analyze how you walk and detect subtle changes that might indicate that something's a little bit off. It can also tell different people apart based on the way they walk, and if you fall and can't get up and don't have your Life Alert with you, the carpet can even call for help.
Okay, so a smart carpet might not (by itself) be the most exciting thing ever, but what is exciting is the potential for having sensors everywhere, invisibly checking up on us to make sure that everything is okay and running as efficiently as possible. Say, light bulbs that know whether you're in a room. Pillows that track of your sleep. Refrigerators that know what groceries you're out of and when the milk goes bad. All of this stuff is totally possible, and as computing and sensors get cheaper and easier to integrate into anything and everything we want, it's only going to make our lives better.