Berkeley’s Mesh Network: Dust in the RFID Wind

UC/Berkeley researchers have created tiny wireless “motes”—aka network sensors—that use radio signals to communicate where they are located in physical space.

The end goal: an RFID network that could revolutionize the industry with its ability to locate tagged items without the aid of readers.

“What we showed in the university was that you could network together a lot of sensors,” said Kristofer Pister, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC/Berkeley who made a name for himself with his 1997 development of technology called Smart Dust—a self-organizing network of tiny wireless “motes.”

For more on this topic, see Technology Focus: RFID in the Real World

“There was a lot of industry demand, so we started a company and now we’re shipping products that let you network [sensors],” Pister said. “The next thing is that these sensors can figure out where they are in 3-D and measure their location.”

In January 2003 Smart Dust was commercialized when Pister co-founded Dust Networks.

Now Pister is back at Berkeley full time, working with graduate student Steven Lanzisera on this next phase of sensor network innovation, dubbed RF Time of Flight.

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