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Smartdust Basics

Smartdust as the name suggest is a dust-like smart systems which are small wireless microelectromechanical sensors (abbreviated as MEM-S) and implemented for detecting different forms of energy, phenomenon and objects such as temperature, light and beams, magnetism, chemicals, vibration etc.

They are tiny robots, sensors, and other nano-devices that use wireless technologies for detection and communication. These tiny dust sized systems are provided with extraordinary features and capabilities. It comprises of nano composition silicon sensors that can assemble themselves, sense different environmental phenomenon and has the capability to report the data back to the environment.

They are a hybrid combination of nano-bots, with computational capability, wireless transmitting and receiving of data in combination with autonomous power supply. These type of Smartdust devices are hard to detect and harder to get rid of such technologies if they are deployed for malicious purpose. Smartdust are designed specifically to monitor the real world scenarios and phenomenon without interference of the natural or original process of a system or environment.

The concept of Smartdust came from a workshop in the year 1992, when a series of DARPA projects were going on due to rise in potential of military and their application in the field of technology. During that period, this concept was given preference and push by UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and University of Michigan. The key components generally used for developing such Smartdust technologies include -

  • Photo detectors & receivers

  • Wireless sensors

  • Semiconductor laser diode

  • MEMS beam-steering mirror to perform optical transmission

  • Signal processors for controlling of circuitry

  • Power cells & thick film battery

  • Nano-chips and bots to work in association

  • Bio-chemical detectors etc

Internally, these Smartdust devices use microcontrollers which consist of very small sized sensors for recording various types of data. These sensors are run by timers and specific jobs are allotted to different sensors - where most of the sensors perform the job of collecting the data received from the environment and surroundings. These data are kept stored in their memories or transmitted to a universal storage location for further analysis and interpretations of data.

Advantages of Smartdust are –

  • reduce infrastructure and system costs

  • increase productivity

  • perform their work without disturbing the surrounding and natural process

  • This technology is used in military to monitor activities in inaccessible area

  • This technology is used in offices and companies for monitoring the movement of employees and other external agents

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