Berkeley wireless sensors networks now monitoring the microclimates
of California's giant redwoods.
Original article: Downsizing Sensor Software (April
tiny wireless sensors developed by researchers at UC Berkeley's
Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest
of Society (CITRIS) were deployed in redwood trees at the
UC Botanical Garden to measure environmental variables like
light, temperature, and humidity. The devices, called motes,
run their own tiny operating system (TinyOS), developed
by UC Berkeley computer science professor David Culler.
TinyOS enables the sensors to form their own networks, bouncing
bits of data from neighboring node to neighboring node until
the information reaches its desired destination for processing.
The Redwood effort is a collaboration between Culler, formerly
the director of the Intel Research Laboratory at Berkeley,
and UC Berkeley professor integrative biology Todd Dawson.
"We'd like to better understand why the natural range
of the coast redwoods is largely restricted to the fog belt,"
says Dawson. "We have a lot of questions, and these
new micromotes are the solution to getting them answered."
Previously, studying the redwood canopy involved lugging
30 pounds of gear up the massive trees using pulleys.
"We worked with Todd's team to design a system that
would generate trustworthy data and withstand the harsh
environment in the forest, while making it easy to install
many sensors in each tree," Culler says. "The
network of sensors will provide a web of data for environmental
Other members of the project team include Robert Szewczyk
and Joe Polastre, UC Berkeley graduate students in electrical
engineering and computer sciences, and Wei Hong and David
Gay of the Intel Research Laboratory at Berkeley.
The redwoods project was recently profiled on CNN.com and
in the pages of the San Jose Mercury News and the Sacramento
go high tech: Researchers use wireless sensors to study
California's state tree" by Sarah Yang, Media Relations
Anthony Ambrose (right) makes preparations to mount
miniature wireless sensors
Noah Berger photo