Chapter 1Introduction

Most advanced biological and man-made physical systems require reliable sensing to function properly. The more sensors they integrate, the more complete and comprehensive is the information they can gather from their surroundings. For a long time, practical challenges have set limits to the number of sensors that can be embedded into physical systems, processes, or environments. Among these challenges are limited space, the difficulty and obtrusiveness of wiring, heat dissipation, and power supply. Miniaturisation of sensors has fundamentally changed the way we deal with these challenges. Furthermore, integrating processing and wireless communication capabilities into sensing systems has enabled not only dynamic programmability but also networking, so that data can be processed (aggregated, filtered, compressed) in a distributed manner or can be packed in packets and transferred to a different location where they can be processed by employing advanced signal-processing algorithms.

The past decade has witnessed an explosion of interest in wireless sensors and wireless sensor networks, for which there are a variety of applications. In civil engineering, these sensors and networks can be employed to monitor the integrity of infrastructure, such as pipelines, bridges, and buildings. In the medicine and healthcare domain, they have already proved to be indispensable, but they are also finding new applications in augmenting existing diagnosis and monitoring infrastructure ...

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