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Physical Technology - Sensors and Tags


Essentially, sensors serve the purpose of detecting events or changes and reporting this information to another electronic device. The average mobile phone contains over a dozen sensors, they are also turning lights on as you enter a room, announcing arrival in a store and help with reverse parking.

Sensors are the main determinant of efficiency. They count and report and their deployment into the built environment via shopping centres, industrial structures and infrastructure is only just beginning.

In the future, sensors will be able to detect pathogens, chemical leaks and corrosion alerting us to disasters before they occur. Sensors can track continual movements, meaning pathways are better understood leading to better design. Sensors will tell us when physical things deteriorate such as roads, buildings, pipes and cables, facilitating preventative repair meaning less disruption and lower costs.


Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags – an Australian invention – are mostly used in proximity or vicinity applications. Examples of proximity applications can be found in room keys, entry tags and many retail goods. Examples of vicinity applications are tracking devices for parcels. RFID tags are most commonly used in logistics and supply chain monitoring, inventory management, access control, library management, real time locations and authentication.

Sensors and tags can notify us about our built environment – warning us of problems before they occur, tell us about usage allowing us to become more efficient in our space use. They will also drive down the cost of storing, retrieving and transporting goods.

To learn what’s next in the rapid world of technology, contact Tony Crabb, National Director, Research.

Read more of Cushman & Wakefield’s Futurology series, click here.