There has been significant recent interest in the use of surface-functionalized thin film and nanowire wide bandgap semiconductors, principally GaN, InN, ZnO and SiC, for sensing of gases, heavy metals, UV photons and biological molecules. For the detection of gases such as hydrogen, the semiconductors are typically coated with a catalyst metal such as Pd or Pt to increase the detection sensitivity at room temperature. Functionalizing the surface with oxides, polymers and nitrides is also useful in enhancing the detection sensitivity for gases and ionic solutions. The wide energy bandgap of these materials make them ideal for solar-blind UV detection, which can be of use for detecting fluorescence from biotoxins. The use of enzymes or adsorbed antibody layers on the semiconductor surface leads to highly specific detection of a broad range of antigens of interest in the medical and homeland security fields. We give examples of recent work showing sensitive detection of glucose, lactic acid, prostate cancer and breast cancer markers and the integration of the sensors with wireless data transmission systems to achieve robust, portable sensors.