Picoradio — cheap, underpowered and everywhere

Picoradio is a UC Berkeley project to build fantastically cheap, shirt-button-sized radio transceivers. The radios have sensors built in and environmental power converters (either solar or piezo, so that they can convert shocks into electricty). The idea is to deploy a swarm of these devices, which will form a short-range, low-bitrate network for environmental sensing and control:

“It’s almost like querying a database,” says Rabaey. “If I send a request into the network saying, ‘Give me the temperature in the kitchen,’ it propagates through the network until it meets a node that says, ‘I’m in the kitchen, and it’s 70 degrees.'”…

Rabaey’s work has generated a fair amount of interest�and money�from both government and industry. Potential applications go far beyond checking temperatures. Since each node is essentially a blank slate that can do whatever it’s programmed to do, the network can be used for other jobs that employ radio frequency identification technologies, like tracking items or people in a contained space. Bob Graybill, program manager of DARPA’s Power Aware Computing/Communication, says that Rabaey’s research “is one of the key technologies that we’ll be evaluating over the next few years for our distributed-sensor technology.”

Link Discuss (Thanks, Mark!)