Internet-connected Windshield Wipers
A couple of days ago, Vint Cerf appeared on The Guardian, talking about the future of the Internet (what else?). He mentioned that "Researchers in Japan recently proposed using data from vehicles' windscreen wipers and embedded GPS receivers to track the movement of weather systems through towns and cities with a precision never before possible. It may seem academic, but understanding the way severe weather, such as a typhoon, moves through a city could save lives."
That's the iCar project, headed by Kei Uehara, here in the Internet Research Lab at Keio's Shonan Fujisawa Campus. The project has been running for more than a decade, and has strong ties to industry groups. Current work includes industry standardization of the privacy aspects of information uploaded by probes attached to vehicles, and the like.
The particular tidbit about the windshield wiper info goes back to about the year 2000, I'm told. It has even been featured in short TV segments about the project.
The WIDE folks are visionaries, I tell ya :-).