From Academic Kids

Smartdust is a network of tiny wireless microelectromechanical sensors (MEMS), robots, or devices, installed with wireless communications, that can detect anything from light and temperature, to vibrations, etc.


Design and engineering

The devices are also called motes and are intended to shrink down to the size of a grain of sand, or even a dust particle. Each device contain sensors, computing circuits, bidirectional wireless communications technology and a power supply. Motes would gather data, run computations and communicate using two-way band radio with other motes at distances approaching 1,000 feet (300 metres).

When clustered together, they automatically create highly flexible, low-power networks with applications ranging from climate control systems to entertainment devices that interact with information appliances.

The Smartdust concept was introduced by Kristofer Pister (University of California) in 2001 Template:Ref, though similar ideas existed in science fiction before then. A recent review Template:Ref discusses various techniques to take smart dust in sensor networks beyond millimeter dimensions to the micrometre level.


A typical application scenario is scattering a hundred of these sensors around a building or around a hospital to monitor temperature or humidity or inform of disasters, such as earthquakes. In the military, they can perform as a remote sensor chip to track enemy movements, detect poisonous gas or radioactivity. In a hospital, they can be used to track patient movements. The ease and low cost of such applications have raised privacy concerns,more primarily in science fiction stories.

"Beyond such demonstrations lies an emerging world of very large networks that combine motes and portable gear with larger technologies to improve the depth, duration and range of monitoring. The $200 million EarthScope project of the science foundation is erecting 3,000 stations that are to track faint tremors, measure crustal deformation and make three-dimensional maps of the earth's interior from crust to core. Some 2,000 more instruments are to be mobile - wireless and sun- or wind-powered - and 400 devices are to move east in a wave from California across the nation over the course of a decade. The goal is to uncover the secrets of how the continent formed and evolved, revolutionizing the study of volcanoes, fault systems, mineral deposits and earthquakes. Begun in 2003, EarthScope is to be completed by 2008 and run until 2023." - New York Times (

See also

External links and references


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