First, a brief prelude about my research interests. I started my PhD on distributed algorithms and self-stabilizing systems in 1998. But then in 2000, after my advisor received a DARPA grant on networked embedded sensor technologies, I have started working on wireless sensor networks. After 10 years of working on wireless sensor networks, I am now in the process of switching topics. I am doing a lot of reading on cloud computing. This is a topic I enjoy, and I think I can contribute here due to my background in distributed systems and theory.
I am also doing a lot of reading on smartphones, as they provide a good alternative/complement to wireless sensor network systems. The main appeal of smartphones is that they have solved the market penetration problem, which the wireless sensor networks have been perpetually struggling with. The killer applications for smartphones are communication and offering a lightweight ubiquitous PC replacement. Smartphones are incidentally better sensors than the wireless sensor network motes. They have much higher computation and storage power. They have ubiquitous connection through GSM, wifi, bluetooth. They have surprising amount of sensors: camera, microphone, GPS, compass, proximity, ambient light, ambient noise, 3D accelerometer, touchscreen, temperature. They are mobile, and cared by the human user, who can help for certain sensing/recognition tasks. They are inexpensive thanks to mass production.
That is why I am interested in smartphones and specifically on crowdsourcing sensing/collaboration to smartphones using Twitter as a middleware. Here is a presentation that provides a brief overview of my work in this topic.
I believe this is a promising direction, and I think the real breakthroughs are going to arrive when we can get smartphone crowdsourcing and cloud computing to collaborate seamlessly.