Many attempts have been made and are underway for implementing energy harvesting systems for powering the low power wireless sensor networks. It will be really interesting to explore a bit on these systems too
Chuck, I hear different numbers all the time, but I think people expect a fairly functional (8-bit? 16/32? ADC?) microcontroller available in high volume for well under $1, say in the 30 to 50 cent range. Whether the low end is feasible....
Loring, I agree that one of the main things holding back widespread use is the competing standards. When I worked for an OEM, the customers always had some other idea in mind (and a lot of times it was whatever was "hot" at the moment".
I still think the other issue is the power source. Once battery technology evolves to where you can get a reliable long-term (i.e., year+) or self-recharging source, this tech will really take off.
Loring: In the RFID world, we used tto hear about "nickel tags." The belief was that when nickel tags arrived, millions of products would suddenly use RFID. Is there a similar price-point goal for microcontroller-powered dust?
Probably the biggest problem in universal adoption is that there is no single protocol that is the equivalent of 802 LANs and the seven-layer OSI prototol stack in wireless sensor nets. ZigBee is the most common physical and data-link protocol, though there's a lot of RFID, Wireless HART, NFC, etc. Eventually, probably all such nets will use TCP/IP and have an IP address. But the IP connection is not obvious because the cost of nodes needs to be so low. Until the cost of microcontroller-powered "dust" drops, we may have quite a protocol mess out there!
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
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