Wireless Sensor Networks - Top 10 Emerging Technologies 2003

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w w w. t e c h n o l o g y r e v i e w. c o m TECHNOLOGY REVIEW February 2003

In labs around the world, researchers are busy creating technologies that will change the way we conduct business and live our lives. These are not the latest crop of gadgets and gizmos: they are completely new technologies that could soon transform computing, medicine, manufacturing, transportation, and our energy infrastructure. Nurturing the people and the culture needed to make the birth of such technological ideas possible is a messy endeavor, as MIT Media Lab cofounder Nicholas Negroponte explains on page 34. But in this special issue, Technology Review’s editors have identified 10 emerging technologies that we predict will have a tremendous influence in the near future. For each, we’ve chosen a researcher or research team whose work and vision is driving the field. The profiles, which begin on page 36, offer a sneak preview of the technology world in the years and decades to come.


Mote maker: David Culler’s “motes” monitor the environment and send reports wirelessly. PHOTOGRAPH BY ANGELA WYANT



February 2003

w w w. t e c h n o l o g y r e v i e w. c o m


Wireless Sensor Networks
Great Duck Island, a 90-hectare expanse of

rock and grass off the coast of Maine, is home to one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of Leach’s storm petrels— and to one of the world’s most advanced experiments in wireless networking. Last summer, researchers bugged dozens of the petrels’ nesting burrows with small monitoring devices called motes. Each is about the size of its power source—a pair of AA batteries—and is equipped with a processor, a tiny amount of computer memory, and sensors that monitor light, humidity, pressure, and heat. There’s also a radio transceiver just powerful enough to broadcast snippets of data to nearby motes and pass on information...
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