And you say “What…Smartdust ?”

Smart Dust entered 2013 Hype Cycle on Gartner’s emerging technologies as the most speculative.

Not so far of the SF movies and future amazing technology smartdust is or will certainly be a major next step in the area of new technology and will be adapted everywhere possible.

Features of Smart dust technology

The smart dust is a device which consists of sensing part, computing part, wireless part and power supply. It is few millimeters in size and very low cost device. It is used to monitor real world phenomenon.

The smart dust technology consists of tiny size wireless sensors. This sensors are also known as “motes”. These devices communicate with each other as well as collect the data as desired.

Smart dust on a finger

The device has size of grain of sand. This device consists of sensors, bi-directional wireless functionality, computational ability and power supply. The technology uses series of circuit and MEMS designs to incorporate functionalities into a silicon. MEMS stands for Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System.

Smart dust Components | How smart dust device works

smart dust components

The smart dust device contains following components:
• sensors
• Active optical transmission using laser diode and beam-steering
• Passive optical transmission using corner cube retro-reflector
• Optical receiver using photodetector
• Analog I/O, Signal processing (DSP or micro-controller) and control circuitry
• Power source (Either using solar cells or thick film batteries)

As shown in the figure, Smart dust uses two types of transmission viz. active and passive. The active transmission uses laser diode and steerable mirrors for device to device communication. The passive transmission uses corner cube retro reflector for transmission to BSs (Base Stations).

• The smart dust device is run using microcontroller unit. It helps in determining tasks which need to be carried out by the mote. It controls the power to different components of the entire system so that power can be conserved.
• Microcontroller gets signal from the sensor. It processes the data according to the sensor type. There are different types of sensors which senses light, temperature, vibration, pressure or acceleration etc. After the processing, it stores the result into the memory.
• The device uses optical receiver so that it will have information about some device willing to communicate to it. This can be new programs or messages from other motes (i.e. smart dust device).
• Based on the received message, micro-controller will use corner cube reflector/laser device to transmit sensor data or message either to Base Station or another mote.

Smart dust Applications

Following are the smart dust applications:
• Soldier wearable shooter locatization system
• It is used in bio-logical domain to monitor movements and internal processes of the insects.
• It is used in places where wired sensors are not useful such as rotating machines, wind tunnels etc.

Smart dust Advantages

Following are the smart dust advantages:
• Smaller size as of dust particles
• Light in weight
• Lower cost
• It helps in reducing time for the farmers due to better fertilization management
• It helps in increase in the productivity.

Smart dust Disadvantages

Following are the smart dust disadvantages:
• The privacy is the major concern which needs to be handle properly.
• It has adverse environmental problems in certain applications.
• Higher cost due to availability of high cost sensors used in the smart dust design.

sources: @here

François Encrenaz

Cloud Specialist | Technical Leader | Technology Strategist

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