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What comes after the Internet of Things?

Answer: The Internet of Ears.

Many people have already expressed concern that their Internet of Things devices like smart speakers are listening in on their daily lives. Right now the connected devices aren’t supposed to, although two scientists want them to eventually do just that.

Ming-Chun Huang and Soumyajit Mandal call their project the “Internet of Ears.” The Case Western Reserve University scientists have been working on developing sensors that can be placed in building walls to “listen” to the occupants inside.

The sensors don’t listen for audio, though — their job is to detect vibrations and changes in the normal electrical field. When humans or pets move, they cause vibrations and disrupt the ambient electrical field in the space around them. They may even one day be able to determine who specifically is moving around, leading to a new way to identify intruders.

Kate is a senior copy editor in Northern California. She holds a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in professional writing from the University of California, Davis.