Mica: a wireless platform for deeply embedded networks

J.L. Hill, D.E. Culler
2002 IEEE Micro  
Current wireless systems only scratch the surface of possibilities emerging from the integration of low-power communication, sensing, energy storage, and computation. Generally, when people consider wireless devices they think of such items as cell phones or personal digital assistants, items with high costs and energy requirements that target specific, highly standardized applications and rely on a powerful infrastructure. A new direction in wireless system design, however, is extending
more » ... s connectivity to small, low-cost embedded devices for a wide range of applications. Application possibilities for miniature wireless sensing devices include inventory asset tracking, roadside traffic pattern and open parking spot detection, individual plant monitoring for precision agriculture, habitat monitoring in nature preserves, and advanced building security and automation. The military could blanket fields with sensors to detect troop movement. Sensors might enable civil engineers to gauge the structural integrity of buildings and bridges after earthquakes or fires. Integrating hundreds of thousands of sensing and control points could provide new insights into the state of the world. Exploiting local communication and application-specific protocols can drastically reduce size, cost, and power use in wireless devices. These devices won't need to communicate with the nearest high-power control tower, but only with their local peers. Peer-to-peer networking techniques provide a flexible meshlike interconnect that shuttles data between thousands of tiny embedded devices. A handful of the devices might act as bridges between a local embedded communication mesh and a traditional data network. Figure 1 depicts a precision agriculture deploymentan active area of application research. Researchers are developing new algorithms for data aggregation, ad hoc routing, and distributed signal processing for low-power peer-topeer wireless networks. As researchers envision smaller and lower-cost devices, the range of application scenarios grows dramatically. The Mica wireless platform serves as a foundation for the emerging possibilities. Pictured in Figure 2 , the Mica platform measures 1.25 × 2.25 inches, runs the TinyOS operating system (http://webs.cs.berkeley.edu/tos), and is suited for self-configuring multihop wireless networks. With sensing, communication, and I/O capabilities, Mica can simultaneously act
doi:10.1109/mm.2002.1134340 fatcat:f56q7m7thrg3fd5lqzyw7c6jci