Sunday, August 01, 2010

Mesh networks

An interesting technology to be playing with are wireless self-healing mesh networks. Mesh networks are characterized by a rather chaotic characterization and where the data sent by one node is not necessarily sent directly to the receiver, but may make a number of hops before it gets there. This allows you to introduce a number of routes between the source of the data being generated and the coordinating node where the data needs to go.

A lot of propositions offer mesh networking for near real-time video display and those types of applications, instantly pushing the limits of the capabilities of bandwidth and network stability. I think the low-speed networks are slightly more interesting myself due to the low-cost ability to set this up and the speed at which such networks can be realized. This makes it very interesting for situations in which you need to cover a certain area for monitoring of some type. As long as the modules being placed have the right kinds of sensor and logic unit, you can start collecting data from this environment in no time.

Sometimes you want to collect more data than the sensors can give you, for example due to bandwidth constraints on this technology or the sensors that the installation is offering. In that case the cooperation of other mobile sensors that can be directed towards positions can help. Think UAV's being directed to that location, but still have means to be 'part' of the network as they move around a larger area of say 10 km to assist with the sensors they offer. The whole idea should be to plot interesting data about this larger area in no time and to do this as autonomously as possible.

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