Cognitive Sensors

Maybe it was a matter of time, but we have moved beyond smart sensors to cognitive ones, powering the even-smarter devices of the Internet of Things (IoT). The preface to this book promises sensors that have increased awareness of their environment and the other sensors around them, and so are able to learn, adapt and perform functions that involve increased levels of intelligence in making decisions. For the readers enticed by the title or the preface, the book should come with a warning.

Starting with an accessible yet thorough introduction to cognitive sensors, the book offers a variety of perspectives on topics ranging from sensor architecture to applications of networks of sensors. There is a bit of uncertainty regarding the term “cognitive.” When applied to networks of sensors, the term indicates an ability to intelligently allocate and reallocate bandwidth. This book discusses such applications but also talks about sensors that are inherently intelligent.

There are many block diagrams and qualitative explanations, but no equations or quantitative results. Among the several chapters that focus on wireless sensor networks, some introductory concepts are repeated unnecessarily.

Each chapter is written by a somewhat different group of authors, having and showing a wide variation in their depth of expertise in the topic. As a result, the quality is rather uneven, including self-contradictory statements (do WSN provide information to IoT or the other way around—or both?) A “bonus” chapter in the middle of the book is on cognitive impairments following COVID-19, with no apparent connection to sensors or IoT. Another chapter is about electromagnetic fields and the effect of IoT on human health, but it has nothing to do with sensors, cognitive or not.

The book does not include exercises that would make it suitable as a textbook, and professionals should consider it with caution. Given the relative lack of depth and the uneven quality, relying on information from this book might require prior expertise rather than simply a desire to learn. 

Review by Bogdan Hoanca, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA.

The opinions expressed in the book review section are those of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect those of OPN or its publisher, Optica (formerly OSA).

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