This might not sound like much, but reducing the number of times someone needs to walk the fields has a big effect on the man-hours spent on each crop. The system, called TechRice, is inexpensive and the nodes recharge batteries from a solar cell. The data is aggregated on the Internet and can be presented as a webpage, a text-message interface, or any other reporting scheme imaginable by utilizing the API of the Open Source software. This is a testament to the power we have as small groups of engineers to improve the world.
In short, Fiorina's "good friend" Steve Jobs blithely mugged her and HP's shareholders. By getting Fiorina to adopt the iPod as HP's music player, Jobs had effectively gotten his software installed on millions of computers for free, stifled his main competitor, and gotten a company that prided itself on invention to declare that Apple was a superior inventor.
DARPA is putting $36m to fund the Leveraging the Analog Domain for Security (LADS) Program (PDF). The agency is looking for proposals for "enhanced cyber defense through analysis of involuntary analog emissions," including things like "electromagnetic emissions, acoustic emanations, power fluctuations and thermal output variations." At the root of the program is frustration and a lack of confidence in digital monitoring and protection technologies developed for general purpose computing devices like desktops, laptops and servers.
The information security community's focus on "defense in-depth" approaches to cyber defense are ill suited for embedded systems because of cost, complexity or resource limitations. Even if that were possible, DARPA notes that "attackers have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to pierce protection boundaries, exploiting the fact that any security logic ultimately executes within the same computing unit as the rest of the (compromised) device software and the attacker's code."