European Project Aims to Create Wireless Sensor Network Roadmap

The Information Society Technology of Europe's Embedded WiseNts project aims to help designers determine the best direction to take with wireless sensor networking. Group sees need for middleware.

(from release) Wireless sensor networks consisting of multiple objects-each capable of simple sensing, actuation, communication and processing-have tremendous potential. To better realize their full capabilities researchers are developing a broad vision of innovative future applications.

Wireless sensor networks are a typical example of a network of 'cooperating objects', tiny embedded computers that cooperate together to produce an intended result. Such embedded systems, be they tiny processors in 'intelligent clothing' or the increasing numbers of computers in automobiles, are characterized by their need to interact with their immediate surroundings. However, it is only by cooperation with other objects that the full capabilities of such networks can be reached.

The problem faced by system designers is that, with so many cooperation possibilities with other networks, intelligent objects or even users themselves, how are they to know the best research direction to take? Which possibilities are likely to be taken up by society and industry globally, and which will turn out to be a blind alley?

These are the questions that the IST project Embedded WiseNts aims to answer. The project has brought together twelve partners from ten different European countries, the top research institutions in wireless communication, distributed computing and cooperating objects, to come up with some answers.

The project partners are focusing on the development of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) and their applications, especially in the form of Cooperating Objects (CO), to help develop a roadmap for innovative future applications. Their objective is to gain a broad vision of embedded wireless networks in the future (+/- 10 years), what their requirements would be and what technical progress is needed to this end.

Specifically, project researchers are looking at the current state-of-the-art in four key areas:

  • Typical application scenarios.
  • Algorithms used for routing, service-discovery, etc.
  • The vertical system functions that impact on several software layers, such as security, context and location management, exception handling, etc.
  • System architecture and programming models, how to develop middleware that could be used for cooperating objects in applications, hardware interfaces, industry applications, etc.
"By looking at these four areas, we identify the gaps in our knowledge, what is missing right now," says Embedded WiseNts' Pedro Marr