Thursday, August 31, 2006
4:15 pm
B17 Upson Hall

Computer Science
Fall 2006

Deborah Estrin
Jon Postel Chair of Computer Networks, UCLA Computer Science Department
Director, Center for Embedded Networked Sensing


Wireless Sensing Systems: From ecosystems to human systems

Miniaturization and Moore’s law has enabled us to combine sensing, computation and wireless communication in integrated, low-power devices, and to embed networks of these devices in the physical world. By placing sensing devices up close to the physical phenomena we are now able to study details in space and time that were previously unobservable.  Across a wide array of applications, the ability to observe physical processes with such high fidelity will allow domain experts to create models, make predictions, and manage critical resources.

Looking back over the past few years we have made significant progress toward the vision of programmable, multi-modal, multi-scale, and multi-use observatories. We have made our greatest strides in these applications using multiscale data and models as context for the in situ measurements, and in network processing and mobility to achieve scalability (in terms of communication, energy, latency and coverage). We found that moving a sensor through a space is the only way to actually achieve dense sensing. And in network processing was needed because by processing data near the sensor source we not only make systems last longer (by conserving communication energy), but make the systems more reactive and interactive e so other elements in the systems (including humans) can adapt to the varying physical observations of the system.

We are now applying these lessons learned and technical approaches to human as well as natural systems, in particular by exploring use of the installed base of image and acoustic sensors that we all carry around in our pockets or on our belts—cell phones. We see these applications as going well beyond the intentional conversations and postings supported by sites such as Flikr and lifeblog to automated, programmable, and adaptive collection of both physical and social parameters at the personal and community level. There are important overlapping themes with scientific applications, most critically the crucial importance of processing of data close to the source so as to address the varied but persistent needs of individuals to selective share these direct observations of their lives and spaces. Moreover, we see the continued importance of mobility to achieve coverage, and the challenge of verifiable location tagging in the context of mobility.