Sensor networks are becoming increasingly popular. They consist of small wireless devices that feed data back to a computer system. For example, you might have a sensor on a bridge that reports back on the amount of traffic that has crossed in any given month. At IBM’s Zurich lab, researchers are developing run-time software that resides on the sensor itself.
Today, sensor networks tend to be heterogeneous and autonomous from each other. Each new sensor uses a closed software framework, meaning there’s no standard set of protocols allowing them to interoperate with other sensor networks. Mote Runner is one answer, according to IBM. As a run-time environment that runs in a virtual machine, the “motes” (or endpoint sensors) are re-usable, scalable, and hardware agnostic; the software routines are easier to program. And, because they are self-contained programs, they are easier to deploy on a variety of sensor hardware.
“Mote Runner makes best use of the available resources—especially power—by requiring only an 8-bit processor, 8KB of RAM, and 128KB of flash,” says Dr. Thorsten Kramp, a research staff member at IBM Research in Zurich. “Some of the practical uses for the technology are in water management, glacier movements, forest ﬁres, building and facility management, smart metering and energy efficiency, medicine and health care, sports medicine, and assisted living and patient monitoring.”