Tracking Real-World Phenomena with Smart Dust
Institute for Pervasive ComputingDept. of Computer ScienceETH Zurich, Switzerland
So-called “Smart Dust” is envisioned to combine sensing, comput-ing, and wireless communication capabilities in an autonomous, dust-grain-sizeddevice. Dense networks of Smart Dust should then be able to unobtrusively mon-itor real-world processes with unprecedented quality and scale. In this paper, wepresent and evaluate a prototype implementation of a system for tracking the lo-cation of real-world phenomena (using a toy car as an example) with Smart Dust.The system includes novel techniques for node localization, time synchroniza-tion, and for message ordering speciﬁcally tailored for large networks of tinySmart Dust devices. We also point out why more traditional approaches devel-oped for early macro prototypes of Smart Dust (such as the Berkeley Motes) arenot well suited for systems based on true Smart Dust.
Smart Dust is commonly used as a synonym for tiny devices that combine sensing,computing, wireless communication capabilities, and autonomous power supply withina volume of only few cubic millimeters at low cost. The small size and low per-devicecost allows an unobtrusive deployment of large and dense Smart Dust populations in thephysical environment, thus enabling detailed in-situ monitoring of real-world phenom-ena, while only marginally disturbing the observed physical processes. Smart Dust isenvisioned to be used in a wide variety of application domains, including environmentalprotection (identiﬁcation and monitoring of pollutions), habitat monitoring (observingthe behavior of animals in their natural habitats), and military systems (monitoring ac-tivities in inaccessible areas). Due to its tiny size, Smart Dust is expected to enable anumber of novel applications. For example, it is anticipated that Smart Dust nodes canbe moved by winds or can even remain suspended in air, thus supporting better mon-itoring of weather conditions, air quality, and many other phenomena. Also, it is hardto detect the bare presence of Smart Dust and it is even harder to get rid of it oncedeployed, which might be helpful for many sensitive application areas.Current research (cf.  for an overview) is mainly focusing on so-called COTS(Commercial Off The Shelf) Dust, early macro prototypes of Smart Dust. COTS Dustnodes such as the Motes  developed at UC Berkeley are built from commerciallyavailable hardware components and still have a volume of several cubic centimeters.Unfortunately, these devices cannot be simply scaled down to the cubic millimeter sizeof true Smart Dust. First Smart Dust prototypes  demonstrate that the tremendous