MEMS- Sensory Swarms
May 23, 2012 - The MEMS Technology Symposium opened with a keynote from Prof. Kristofer Pister of UC Berkeley who talked about Sensory Swarms. These swarms are made of large numbers of wireless sensors that form an information interconnect and communication back to a central compute and analysis location.
The vast majority of these new sensors is going to be for building automation. These include demand response control, Automated Machine Interfaces (AMI), SCADA, and environmental management. A large portion of these devices will be communicating through thw low power communication of Zigbee (802.15.4). In 2010, there were 168M Zigbee enabled devices, and it is anticipated that in 2015 there will be over 1.1B devices.
These new wireless devices are all network enabled, primarily using IPV6, which also brings along capabilities such as data security using AES128 and key management systems. This is a change from existing industrial automation that uses traditional IPV4, and does not support direct network tunneling. These new devices are designed around new efficient coding methods for direct Internet Protocol packet transfer. MEMS form the core of the sensor element for these devices, and are now moving into the RF portions of these devices.
The driver for the mass adoption is the price. The current cost to have an direct IP connected device with the cloud is $2-$20. This price needs to drop down to the $0.20 range for the sensors to be ubiquitous in application and pervasive in all aspects of the industrial flow.
A major challenge for the devices is the validation and design for long life oepration. A large number of infrastructure based uses, e.g. on bridges or placed under the roadway, require extended 10-15yr product life without physical access for replacement or re-calibration. The devices need to show environmental sustainability in these harsh conditions, and the solid state nature of MEMS is a good candidate from these applications.
Developments in this program can be found at openWSN.berkeley.edu . The site includes research on Dust Networks, developments from LBNL, and the UCB GINA project.