Smartdust is a network of tiny wireless microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors, robots, or devices, installed with wireless communications, that can detect (for example) light, temperature, or vibration. The devices, or motes, are intended to be the size of a grain of sand, or even a dust particle. Smart Dust is commonly used as a synonym for tiny devices that combine sensing, computing, wireless communication capabilities and autonomous power supply within a volume of only few cubic millimetres at low cost. The small size and low per_device cost allows an unobtrusive deployment of large and dense Smart Dust population in-situ monitoring of real-world phenomena, while only marginally distributing the observed physical processes.
When clustered together, they would automatically create highly flexible, low-power networks with applications ranging from climate control systems to entertainment devices that interact with information appliances. There exist endless possibilities for the applications of these devices. The wireless sensing capabilities of Smart Dust, combined with its microscopic size give everything in the physical world the potential to be ‘smart’.
We use Smart Dust to pursue projects such as
• deploying defense networks rapidly by unmanned aerial vehicles or artillery;
• monitoring rotating-compression-blade high cycle fatigue;
• tracking the movements of birds, small animals, and insects;
• monitoring environmental conditions that affect crops and livestock;
• building virtual keyboards;
• Managing inventory control;
• monitoring product quality;
• constructing smart-office spaces; and
• providing interfaces for the disabled.
The Smart Dust project is probing micro fabrication technology’s limitations to determine whether an autonomous sensing, computing, and communication system can be packed into a cubic-millimetre mote to form the basis of integrated, massively distributed sensor networks.
Essentially, the ability to sense,...