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Brisbane wireless sensor network turns 1

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A NETWORK of independent wireless sensors has reached its first anniversary of continuous operation at the CSIRO ICT Centre in Brisbane.

The network measures environmental variables such as temperature, soil moisture, water quality, humidity and solar energy levels. Charged by solar panels, these sensor nodes then send the collected data back to a central database to be recorded and analysed.

Project leader Dr Tim Wark said this is the longest running autonomously operating wireless sensor network in Australia.

“The sensors, developed by CSIRO and called Flecks, are low cost, low power devices suitable for deployment in large numbers in remote wireless networks. In comparison to other systems, Flecks are extremely robust in a variety of harsh environments, as well as being easy to produce, cost effective and easily modified to measure almost any variable,” he said.

“Each individual Fleck works independently of the group to record environmental conditions, then cooperates with neighbouring Flecks to wirelessly transfer its data back to a database via an ad-hoc network formed from the collection of nodes.”

Wark said this type of research has applications in recording environmental conditions across large areas.

“By simply dropping in a series of Flecks we can record, for example, the changing water temperature of the Great Barrier Reef or the soil moisture in crop-growing fields, allowing a farmer to optimally adjust the level of irrigation required so as to properly irrigate crops while saving water,” he said.

“Our plan is to solve the issues associated with programming and deploying much larger wireless sensor networks (WSN) in harsh and challenging environments. Scaling of networks is one of the greatest challenges for WSNs and our approach is to apply the lessons learned from our current, real, outdoor networks to solve the problems associated with deploying much larger networks.”

If you are involved in or know of a project that uses innovative Australian electronics, then why not enter it into the 2006 EDN Innovation Awards? For criteria and entry forms, visit www.ferret.com.au/FerretAwards/EDNAwards.asp.

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