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The vision of ubiquitous computing requires the development of devices and technologies that can be pervasive without being intrusive. The basic component of such a smart environment will be a small node with sensing and wireless communications capabilities, able to organize itself flexibly into a network for data collection and delivery. Realising such a sensor network presents many significant challenges, especially at the architectural and protocol/software level. Major steps forward are required in the field of communications protocol, distributed data processing, and application support.

Although sensor nodes will be equipped with a power supply (battery) and embedded processor that makes them autonomous and self-aware, their functionality and capabilities will be very limited. Therefore, collaboration between nodes is essential to deliver smart services in a ubiquitous setting. The goal of the proposed effort in this project is to investigate new algorithms for distributed collaboration, and evaluate their feasibility through experimentation. These algorithms will be key for building self-organizing and collaborative sensor networks that show emergent behaviour and can operate in a challenging environment where nodes move, fail, and energy is a scarce resource.

We will develop two classes of algorithms. The first class consists of algorithms for communications and networking, including distributed wireless access, ad-hoc routing protocols, and reliable end-to-end transport. The second class of algorithms directly supports sensor applications, and provides common services such as information collection, distributed data processing, and replication (fault-tolerance). In both classes of algorithms collaboration is key to overcome the limited capabilities of individual sensor nodes.

We will take an experimental approach and study the feasibility of the developed algorithms and concepts by means of a large-scale prototype sensor network (100+ nodes).

We will work closely together with the european project EYES, in which the University of Twente is also a partner. Other partners in the EYES project are: Nedap N.V., Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Telecomunicazioni (CNIT) in Italy, Rome University 'La Sapienza', Technical University of Berlin, and Alcatel CIT Research and Innovation.

The EYES project website.
Last update: Niels Reijers, February 20, 2003