IBM J. Res. Dev

The adaptive environment: Delivering the vision of in situ real-time environmental monitoring

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Widespread use of sensors provides difficult challenges for the management of sensing technologies and their robust operation. Such challenges involve the demands of system longevity, autonomous operation, large-scale and operationally difficult deployments, and unpredictable and lossy environments. This paper examines the various challenges that exist in the development of the adaptive environment, a sensing "membrane" that is situated within the environment and that ideally will operate autonomously for long periods. The paradigm of widespread sensing described in this paper will yield data of an unprecedented volume and heterogeneity. Topologies of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) will increasingly be used to dynamically monitor our environment. The challenge is to achieve effective decision-making within such WSNs commensurate with the computational constraints within which such devices operate. This paper examines steps toward delivering in situ real-time environmental monitoring. We propose a new generation of ubiquitous sensing technology that involves autonomic WSNs (AWSNs) that will provide the intelligent machinery necessary to enable the next generation of material surfaces, sensors, and sensor networks for autonomic and opportunistic adaptation. © Copyright 2009 by International Business Machines Corporation.