What Is A Sensor, Really?

Being new to the Savi team, I am extremely excited about the company’s strategy to fill that “big white space” in the supply chain: sensor-based analytics. In fact, it’s one of the key reasons I joined the organization. And when you think of sensors, general industrial uses frequently come to mind: RFID to track the location of critical equipment, altimeters to help pilots fly airplanes, barometers used by meteorologists to (try to!) predict weather patterns, and so on. So as I embarked on my new job at Savi, I made a conscious effort to be on the lookout for sensors and how they are used.

What I quickly came to realize is that sensors are everywhere. Let’s start with your daily commute: if you pay a toll (like I do), you have an RFID tag on your windshield. When you’re driving some place unfamiliar, you probably use Garmin or some other GPS system to help you get there—again, another type of sensor that provides location information. If the voice on the GPS happens to lead you astray or to a dead-end street, you can use your smart phone to access Google Maps to get on the right path. And when you get home and don’t feel like cooking (again, like me), you can press the “re-heat sensor” button on the microwave and have perfectly warm leftovers. Again, more sensors.

But the use of sensors in our every day world goes way beyond the daily commute and avoiding cooking. There are sensors in elevators & subways to ensure the doors don’t crush unwitting commuters. IP addresses are actually sensors telling the world your host or network ID and location. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook are actually sensors too, as they take the temperature of users—if you’ve ever tweeted about poor customer service or “liked” an article on Yahoo news, the world can “sense” how you feel about your experience. So in fact, we live in a world of sensors and they provide us information about nearly everything that impacts our day-to-day lives. And this realization—that sensors are everywhere and Savi is on the leading edge of turning that sensor data into actionable insights—made me all the more excited about joining the company.