INSTRUMENTING THE WORLD WITH WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS
D. Estrin, L. Girod
UCLADepartment of Computer Scienceemail:
@cs.ucla.eduG. Pottie, M. Srivastava
UCLADepartment of Electrical Engineeringemail:
Pervasive micro-sensing and actuation may revolutionize the wayin which we understand and manage complex physical systems:from airplane wings to complex ecosystems. The capabilities fordetailed physical monitoring and manipulation offer enormous op-portunities for almost every scientiﬁc discipline, and it will alterthe feasible granularity of engineering.We identify opportunities and challenges for distributed sig-nal processing in networks of these sensing elements and investi-gate some of the architectural challenges posed by systems that aremassively distributed, physically-coupled, wirelessly networked,and energy limited.
The availability of low-power micro-sensors, actuators, embeddedprocessors, and radios is enabling the application of distributedwireless sensing to a wide range of applications, including en-vironmental monitoring, smart spaces, medical applications, andprecision agriculture . Most deployed sensor networks in-volve relatively small numbers of sensors, wired to a central pro-cessing unit where all of the signal processing is performed . Incontrast, this paper focuses on
distributed, wireless, sensor net-works
in which the signal processing is
Why distributed sensing?
When the precise location of a signal of interest is unknown in a monitored region, dis-tributed sensing allows one to place the sensors closer tothe phenomena being monitored than if only a single sen-sor were used. This yields higher SNR, and improved op-portunities for line of sight. While SNR can be addressedin many cases by deploying one very large sensitive sen-sor, line of sight, and more generally obstructions, cannotbe addressed by deploying one sensor regardless of its sen-sitivity. Thus, distributed sensing provides robustness toenvironmental obstacles.
When wired networking of distributed sen-sors can be easily achieved, it is often the more advanta-geous approach. Moreover, when nodes can be wired to re-newable (relatively inﬁnite) energy sources, this too greatlysimpliﬁes the system design and operation. However, in
Supported by the DARPA SensIT program and NSF Special Projectsunder ANIR.
Supported by the DARPA SensIT program.
many envisioned applications, the environment being mon-itored does not have installed infrastructure for either com-munications orenergy, and therefore untethered nodes mustrely on local, ﬁnite, and relatively small energy sources, aswell as wireless communication channels.
Why distributed processing?
Finally, although sensorsare distributed to be close to the phenomena, one might stillconsider an architecture in which sensor outputs could becommunicated back to a central processing unit. However,in the context of untethered nodes, the ﬁnite energy budgetis aprimarydesign constraint. Communications is akey en-ergy consumer as the radio signal power in sensor networksdrops off with
 due to ground reﬂections from shortantenna heights. Therefore, one wants to process data asmuch as possible inside the network to reduce the numberof bits transmitted, particularly over longer distances.
2. MOTIVATING APPLICATION
The potential applications of wireless sensor networks are highlyvaried: e.g., Physiological monitoring; Environmental monitoring(air, water, soil chemistry); Condition based maintenance; Smartspaces; Military; Precision agriculture; Transportation; Factory in-strumentation and inventory trackingHabitatmonitoring[Cerpa-etal01, Hamilton, Steere-etal00]pro-vides a rich collection of sensing modalities and environmentalconditions and we use it tomotivate our technical discussion. Con-siderthegoalof supporting datacollectionandmodel developmentof complex ecosystems. Scientists andenvironmental impact mon-itoring authorities would like to monitor soil and air chemistry, aswell as plant and animal species populations and behavior. Forthe latter, the primary modalities are imaging and acoustics to lo-calize, identify and track species or phenomena based on implicitsignals (acoustic and seismic), or explicit signals (RF tags). Thesefacilities must be deployable in remote locations that lack installedenergy and communication infrastructures, motivating the need forlow-power wireless communication.The strategy for node cooperation strategy has signiﬁcant con-sequences in terms of communication bandwidth and energy con-sumption. Forexample, considerthetaskofidentifying birdspeciesin view of several cameras. If it is to be accomplished throughimage analysis, we could stream all the video back to a humanoperator-a very costly approach. Alternatively, we could streamaudio to a central location, which then performs signal processingto identify and stream back only those streams that are most likelyto contain a target species. While this reduces communications