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  A number of companies (Crossbow, Microstrain, Millenial Net) offer wireless network technology that could conceivably be used in the environmental sensing application. However, some of these systems are compromised by a single-frequency radio that severely restricts the density and size of a functioning network, because the sensors suffer mutual radio interference. A research effort with goals similar to ours offers a rich sensor suite and an innovative operating system and development tools (Mainwaring et al. 2002). However, the sensors are located within the package, which may result in thermal, light, and humidity measurement artifacts, and the radio package is a single-frequency design. Two low-cost wireless networking standards efforts are also underway: Bluetooth and IEEE 802.15.4 (Callaway et al. 2002). The first targets personal area networking, and the second targets low-bandwidth home networking for security and environmental control. Unfortunately, the protocol stack for both is highly complex, requiring a more expensive microcontroller. This will not be a problem as microelectronics technology advances; however, neither protocol provides the degree of energy efficiency needed for remote, unattended sensing (Min and Chandrakasan 2002). We believe that our robust, integrated sensing/networking solution achieves the balance between cost and performance that is critical for success (Hughes 2002). In addition, our careful attention to cost for this application will make the technology suitable for commercialization and deployment worldwide.
 
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