A wireless sensor network
consists of distributed sensors to monitor physical or environmental conditions. These include factors like temperature, humidity, light etc. They monitor such parameters and then pass the data via the wireless network to the main location. There are also sensors available that can work bi-directional enabling control of sensor activity. Such kind of wireless sensors were inspired by the military applications, like those implemented on the battlefield for surveillance. Now-a-days similar sensor networks are utilized for many industrial and consumer applications, like machine health monitoring, industrial process monitoring and control and even by private home owners too.
The wireless sensor network
is made of nodes. These can range from several hundred to thousands of nodes. Each node is usually connected to one sensor. Thus each sensor node of the network has several different parts like a radio transceiver with an internal antenna or connections to an external antenna, a microcontroller, and an electronic circuit for interfacing with the sensors and an energy source, usually a battery or an embedded form of energy harvesting. The sensor nodes vary in size from that of a shoebox to that of a grain of dust.. And thus accordingly the cost of these sensor nodes also vary. It is these cost and size constraints that result in constraints on the other resources like energy, memory, communications bandwidth and computational speed.
There are many applications of Wireless Sensor Networks. Environmental Monitoring is one of them. The term environmental monitoring has a very broad meaning and thus to be more specific the Wireless Sensor Networks are implemented in applications like the air quality monitor, water quality monitor. It is also used in Industrial monitoring, like the machine health monitoring, data logging, water and waste water monitoring. Besides which it has many applications in agriculture as well. It is in fact very common for wireless sensor networks to be implemented by the farmers. And the fact that they are wireless is all the more better for the farmers since it saves them from the maintenance of wires and the installation of wires too which would be quite a task in itself. These days smart homes implement such wireless sensor networks as well.
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