Published on Jun 05, 2023


Over the last year or so you may have heard about a new computing concept known as motes. This concept is also called smart dust and wireless sensing networks. It seems like just about every issue of Popular Science, Discover and Wired today contains a blurb about some new application of the mote idea.

Description of Motes

For example, the military plans to use them to gather information on battlefields, and engineers plan to mix them into concrete and use them to internally monitor the health of buildings and bridges. There are thousands of different ways that motes might be used, and as people get familiar with the concept they come up with even more.

It is a completely new paradigm for distributed sensing and it is opening up a fascinating new way to look at computers. In this article, you will have a chance to understand how motes work and see many of the possible applications of the technology. Then we will look at a MICA mote -- an existing technology that you can buy to experiment with this unique way of sensing the world.

Sensor network applications

Sensor networks have been applied to various research areas at a number of academic institutions. In particular, environmental monitoring has received a lot of attention with major projects at UCB, UCLA and other places. In addition, commercial pilot projects are staring to emerge as well. There are a number of start-up companies active in this space and they are providing mote hardware as well as application software and back-end infrastructure solutions.

The University of California at Berkeley in conjunction with the local Intel Lab is conducting an environmental monitoring project using mote based sensor networks on Great Duck Island off the coast of Maine. This endeavor includes the deployment of tens of motes and several gateways in a fairly harsh outdoor environment.