Microsoft's Data Center Solutions(DCS) sponsored a Microsoft Research project described in this article.
Monitoring the conditions: This sensor, a prototype developed by the Networked Embedded Computing group at Microsoft Research, is sensitive to heat and humidity. The group envisions using sensors like these to monitor servers in data centers, enabling significant energy savings. The sensors could also be used in homes to manage the energy use of appliances.
Credit: Microsoft Research
The sensors, says Feng Zhao, principal researcher and manager of the group, are sensitive to both heat and humidity. They're Web-enabled and can be networked and made compatible with Web services. Zhao says that he envisions the sensors, which are still in prototype form, as "a new kind of scientific instrument" that could be used in a variety of projects. In a data center, the idiosyncrasies of a building and individual servers can have a big effect on how the cooling system functions, and therefore on energy consumption. Cooling, Zhao notes, accounts for about half the energy used in data centers. (He believes that the sensors, which he says could sell for $5 to $10 apiece, could be used in homes as well as in data centers, where they could work in tandem with a Web-based energy-savings application.)
The connection between MSR and DCS is producing an always on data collection and visualization system for data center operations. As Microsoft continues to develop this system the potential for use of this system beyond the data center is huge for other industries and potential energy savings.
I want to thank Jie Liu for showing me the early prototype. And now, that there is a public article, I can write how cool this technology is.