5Sensor Networks

5.1 Introduction

A sensor network is composed of a large number of sensor nodes, which are densely deployed either inside the phenomenon, they are observing, or very close to it.

Most of the time the nodes are randomly deployed in inaccessible terrains or disaster relief operations. This also means that sensor network protocols and algorithms must possess self-organizing capabilities. Another unique feature of sensor networks is the cooperative effort of sensor nodes. Sensor nodes are fitted with an on board processor. Instead of sending the raw data to the nodes responsible for the fusion, sensor nodes use their processing abilities to locally carry out simple computations and transmit only the required and partially processed data.

The above described features ensure a wide range of applications for sensor networks. Some of the application areas are health, military, and security. For example, the physiological data about a patient can be monitored remotely by a doctor. While this is more convenient for the patient, it also allows the doctor to better understand the patient’s current condition. Sensor networks can also be used to detect foreign chemical agents in the air and the water. They can help to identify the type, concentration, and location of pollutants. In essence, sensor networks will provide the end user with intelligence and a better understanding of the environment. It is expected that, in future, wireless sensor networks will be an integral part ...

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