Putting intelligence into future cities

First, there were people talking to people. Today, we talk a lot to machines – whether a mobile phone, self-checkouts, or parking meters. With the proliferation of wireless autonomous sensors connected to global digital networks, the future will be about machines talking to each other. But there are problems: how can we keep these sensors going when their batteries run out? Eric foresees a future where devices that can use their ambient environment to scavenge energy to keep themselves going forever, and reveals the opportunities that will come with machines making decisions on your behalf.
I'm curious about..."how micro technologies can increase the intelligence of systems in our personal and industrial environments.Prof Eric Yeatman


Prof Eric Yeatman is Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Co-Director of the college's Digital Economy Lab. He is currently leading a project called Digital City Exchange, which is a collaboration between engineering and the business school (http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/digital-economy-lab). Yeatman has acted as a design consultant for several international companies, and technical advisory board member to two venture capital funds. He is also co-founder of Microsaic Systems (http://www.microsaic.com/), the first company to introduce miniaturised mass spectrometers on to the market.


Prof Eric Yeatman’s research focuses on developing micro-electronic technology to capture usable real time data across sectors. This knowledge will lead to smarter decision making within our cities. Eric is interested in the following questions:


  • Can we create sensors with perpetual power supplies thus eliminating the battery problem?

  • How could sensor networks integrate into the physical environment to create smart cities?

  • What kind of business models could emerge from creating links between businesses so they can share data and create new applications and efficiencies?

Prof Eric Yeatman's predictions from 2014




Within 5 years

Sensors within buildings lead to an environment more reactive to our needs.


Within 10 years

Thousands of sensors are embedded in our cities powered by ambient energy sources.


Within 20 years

Business models change as companies share data.



Foresight and futures work

2034: Tech Foresight
The future of sensing and data-driven technologies
Ambrosetti Club @ Imperial College London: What Makes a Vibrant Innovation Ecosystem?

Profile Credits

Foresight Development: Alex Ayad, Sara Kenney, Alun Rhydderch, Keeren Flora, David Barreto Ian, Ali Salehi-Reyani, Kristina Kareh

Video: Alex Ayad, Sara Kenney, Tom Walker, Consider Creative