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Volume 3, Issue 7
September 2003

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In This Issue
Robugs: Smart Dust Has Legs

Vision and Motion

Touching the Future of Virtual Reality

The Birth of Bioproduction at UC Berkeley

1962: Graduation of David N. Kennedy, California's long-time "Water Czar"

Dean's Digest

Lab Notes Update

Archives 2003
Lab Notes, Research from the College of Engineering

Berkeley Engineers: Changing Our World

UC Berkeley wireless sensors networks now monitoring the microclimates of California's giant redwoods.
Original article: Downsizing Sensor Software (April 2002)

In August, 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 scientists."

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 and in the pages of the San Jose Mercury News and the Sacramento Bee.

"Redwood 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

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