wireless sensor network (WSN)

A wireless sensor network is a group of specialized transducers with a communications infrastructure that uses radio to monitor and record physical or environmental conditions.

A wireless sensor network is a group of specialized transducers with a communications infrastructure for monitoring and recording conditions at diverse locations. Commonly monitored parameters are temperature, humidity, pressure, wind direction and speed, illumination intensity, vibration intensity, sound intensity, power-line voltage, chemical concentrations, pollutant levels and vital body functions.

A sensor network consists of multiple detection stations called sensor nodes, each of which is small, lightweight and portable. Every sensor node is equipped with a transducer, microcomputer, transceiver and power source. The transducer generates electrical signals based on sensed physical effects and phenomena. The microcomputer processes and stores the sensor output. The transceiver receives commands from a central computer and transmits data to that computer. The power for each sensor node is derived from a battery.

Potential applications of sensor networks include:

  • Industrial automation
  • Automated and smart homes
  • Video surveillance
  • Traffic monitoring
  • Medical device monitoring
  • Monitoring of weather conditions
  • Air traffic control
  • Robot control.
This was first published in June 2006

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