Mesh Networks: Monitoring Buildings


Mesh networks are interesting to me. I like to think about what you can do with lots of similar, wirelessly connected, sensors. For example, I've envisioned OnStar as an open platform for mobile mesh computing and monitoring. An article at AlwaysOn talks about Buildings That Know Their Limits, a feat made possible with meshes of smart sensors. The company doing it is called Sensametrics.

In a nutshell, the Sensametrics architecture is this: off-the shelf heat sensors, vibration sensors, and strain gauges plug into Sensametrics "wireless sensing units." These units have their own accelerometers, to measure shaking, vibration, or swaying, and also collate the data stream from the devices plugged into them. Via radio, they transmit only data thatās outside programmed parameters -- such as 'too hot,' or 'bent too far' -- either to the next closest sensing unit or directly to the Sensametrics console. If one of the Sensametrics units is trying to send data to a unit that has malfunctioned, it can send it via another path -- this is ad-hoc mesh networking.

The article explains this use of sensors and mesh networks in some detail. In the computer world, we're used to being able to instrument just about anything, pull in the data (using OpenView, Tivoli, or something like that) and make decisions based on the data. The rest of the world is just getting in on this game and I think its going to open up lots of opportunities and lots of challenging questions about privacy and transparency.