Scientists in Australia have developed an innovative wireless sensor network (WSN) to monitor the environment and potentially restore endangered rainforests. The group has deployed 10 wireless solar-powered sensors in the Springbrook National Park, to measure such environmental factors as temperature, humidity, light, soil moisture and wind speed, and to relay that information to a central database located in Brisbane, Queensland.
Springbrook is part of the Gondwana Rainforest, which is included on UNESCO‘s World Heritage List for areas with outstanding heritage value. Up to 200 wireless sensors will be deployed over the next three years, including models with video and sound recorders, to provide details regarding the health of the ecosystem, fauna and flora.
More info here.
From Crossbow’s blog:
What forces drive us and keep us going? What energy do we need to power us on? Energy is often defined as the ability to do work or to cause change. Power is definedas the rate of doing work or the rate of using energy.Energy has always existed in one form or another, and sometimes in places we often overlook. While the world has focused on using radio waves for communication,Powercast has focused on capturing radio waves to power devices.
Founded in 2003, Powercast developed an RF energy harvesting module with breakthrough efficiency levels. Coupled with a transmitter that sends RF energy using algorithms developed by Powercast, the Powercast Wireless Power Platform™ was born. While the concept of sending power “through the air” has been discussed for more than 100 years, Powercast is the first company to make it commercially viable and harness energy in this form.
Powercast timeline from Iniko on Vimeo.
Although clearly there is now plenty of room and more need for immediate wsn applications based on available battery technologies or powered from the grid whenever possible, the prospects for battery free or complementary energy harvesting solutions would remarkably help expand future sensor deployment possibilities.
Here is an over-one-year-old interesting presentation by Raj Amirtharajah (Assistant Professor at ECE Dept. UC Davis) delivered at Stanford University Computer Systems Colloquium.
In this talk, Raj introduces energy harvesting schemes in the microwatts power range, describes circuit and system microarchitecture techniques to employ ambient energy sources in wireless sensor nodes, and provides specific examples of designing efforts for solar and vibration energy harvesting applications.
The talk then goes into some energy scalable DSP design techniques for sensor platforms with graceful performance degradation on power constrains. Lastly, future trends in this area are discussed.
The video can be seen here (1h 19′) or alternatively download it (128 MB) using this tool.
Dec. 5, 2008—The City of London School for Girls is heating its facility more efficiently and more comfortably, thanks to a wireless sensor system that allows each room to be controlled independently, in order to maintain the optimum temperature. The system is intended to lessen the school’s carbon footprint by reducing the tendency to overheat some rooms, with wireless sensor nodes that were easier and less expensive to install than a traditional wired system.
More information can be found here
The 1st ICST International Conference on Sensor Networks Applications, Experimentation and Logistics (SENSAPPEAL 2009) is to be held in Athens, Greece the 24-25 of September 2009.
It aims at bringing together researchers and developers from academia and industry to present their work and share their experiences with developing, deploying and testing WSN applications. Moreover key enablers to WSN application development (such as OS, middleware, in-field reprogramming, testbeds and simulators, etc.) fall within the scope of the conference.
Although WSNs have been an active area of research for over a decade, real world sensor network deployments have not yet found their way to widespread adoption. The experience gained and lessons learned during the initial attempts to deploy WSNs and implement various sensor network applications are very valuable for the advancement of this technology. CFP is now available
Paper Submission Deadline: March 6th, 2009
Notification of Acceptance: May 31st, 2009
Author Registration Deadline: July 15th, 2009
Camera Ready Copy Due: July 20th, 2009
See more details at the conference site
Seoul Forest Park, Seoul’s version of New York City’s Central Park, just opened to the public in 2005 but is already getting a significant upgrade. While the public gathering spot provides rest and respite from city life, the 286-acre park also offers a wide variety of digital services enabled by a new high-performance wireless mesh canopy. Organized by the city of Seoul and currently being deployed by Samsung subsidiary SeoulCommtech Co. Ltd., the system employs wireless networking technologies developed by Los Gatos, Calif.-based Firetide Inc. to deliver multiple applications over a single wireless infrastructure.
The Seoul Forest system represents the second phase of an ambitious plan the municipality has designed to create a city-wide ubiquitous sensor network, known as “Seoul u-City,” which provides services to residents, tourists, city employees and businesses. The project builds upon the successful first-phase implementation – along the recently renovated Cheonggye Waterway – that features wireless applications for video surveillance, digital visitors’ guides, environmental monitoring systems for water engineers and wildlife specialists, and even a network of intelligent street lamps.
Tiny radios embedded in paint could be used to pick up sound, detect whether wine or ice cream has been stored properly or even be painted on the heart to prevent arrhythmias.
BAE Systems researchers developed the miniature wireless sensors, which are powered by scavenging ambient radiation from the atmosphere.
Dr Karl Brommer, an engineering fellow at BAE Systems, started exploring this technology based on radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in 2002, and filed patents in 2005. ‘People complain that most of the cost in manufacturing RFID tags is not in making the circuit, it’s in placing the circuit on the seed of the antenna, the tag,’ he said.
Brommer proposed a solution that would work like inkjet printing, squirting an ensemble of identical radios near the seed point to create sensor technology with a range of more sophisticated applications than conventional RFID technology.
More info here.
Intel is developing self-powered microchips that could be implanted in the human body, a mobile phone, a building, or anyplace else where people wish to gather information.Called a “wireless identification and sensing platform,” or WISP, the devices were among several technologies described Friday by Intel CTO Justin Rattner during a meeting with reporters in San Francisco. Most of the technologies discussed are under development in Intel labs and are unlikely to reach the marketplace in products for at least three to five years.
All of the inventions were designed to be energy-efficient. The WISP sensors would use Intel technology for drawing power from the environment. “These are install-and-forget kind of systems,” Rattner said.
The power would come from wireless transmissions, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot, a cellular tower, or a TV broadcast, making it possible for the sensors to continuously gather information in almost any environment, Rattner said.
More info about this interesting project here.
According to ICT Results in ‘The Network of Everything,’ wireless experts estimate that our personal networks will include about a thousand devices in 2017, including dozens of sensors checking our health and our home. This is why European researchers have launched in 2006 a networking project called ‘MAGNET Beyond.’ The name is an acronym for ‘My personal adaptive Global NET and beyond.’ The article suggests that the researchers have in fact built the Smart Personal Network, which integrates the concepts of Personal Networks (PNs) and Personal Area Networks (PANs).
The EU-funded MAGNET Beyond project was completed in June 2008 by a consortium of 35 companies from 16 countries. The EU provided about €10 million for a budget of over €17 million. The picture above shows the ‘MAGNET Beyond’ architecture. (Credit: MAGNET Beyond) Here is a link to a larger version of this diagram and another one to a page giving additional details.
More info available here.
A new study launched by researchers at Quinnipiac University will attempt to determine whether seniors monitored by Healthsense, Inc.’s wireless sensor technology at the Masonicare healthcare and retirement community in Wallingford, Conn., are able to remain independent for longer, delay being admitted to a hospital or nursing home, and better attend to their own basic daily needs. Healthsense is an aging services technology company based in Mendota Heights, Minn.
The two-year study is the first of its kind in the New England area and among the first nationally to specifically examine whether integrated sensor technology can help seniors age safely and comfortably in their own homes, according to Jim Albert, Masonicare’s Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Information Services. Masonicare is the largest senior-focused healthcare system in Connecticut, as well as one of the largest such systems in the country.
More info here.