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The application and importance of sensor network depends on the type of sensor nodes used, the field & scope of deployment, the computational and QoS requirements. The recent advancements in Micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) and wireless communication technologies make it a pragmatic vision to deploy a large-scale, low power, inexpensive sensor networks (Ning Xu,) Event detection, location sensing, control of actions to be taken under certain criteria are frequent requirements in sensor networks. Sensors vary from seismic, low sampling rate magnetic, thermal, visual, infrared, acoustic and radar, which are able to monitor a wide variety of ambient conditions like temperature, humidity, vehicular movement, light, pressure, soil makeup, noise level, object detection, mechanical stress level, dimensions, speed and many more.
The industries and manufacturing units are looking towards WSN to provide sensing and actuating hazardous and impossible to intervene areas. This requires improved functionalities and efficiencies of sensor nodes. Sensor network would be able to accommodate local-area coverage to wide area coverage with its very long lifetime that too with very reasonable cost; this is why sensors are widely used now-a-days.
Inaccessible Terrain: Wide adaptation range, usually in remote geographic areas, is destined for sensor network tests and deployment for the unattended capabilities. Sensor networks work under several harsh environment and phenomena.
Disaster Relief & Emergency Response: Response to natural disasters and other emergencies is critical in order to protect resources including human life. The flexibility of reporting, low cost and ease of deployment makes Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) a preferred emergency response system of the future. The autonomous sensor devices can constantly monitor the physical or environmental conditions of the disaster areas or those where humans can’t pass in. The emergency response systems using IEEE 802.15.4 and Zigbee have already been deployed for a range of sensing applications in a proven cost effective way.
Health Applications Sensor Networks:
The miniscule size of most sensors is a boon in medicine where they can be used for disabled, patient monitoring, diagnostics, drug administration in hospitals, monitoring movements and internal processes of highly sensitive bio fluids, telemonitoring of human physiological data (Akyildiz, et al, 2002). Sensors application in health and medicine can be of great help to find the cause of diseases and internal complexities which otherwise would be extremely difficult since these phenomena are associated with patient’s internal body. Smart Sensors and Integrated Microsystems (SSIM) project for retina prosthesis chip implantation that involves 100 microsensors implantation within human eye, Glucose level monitoring, Cancer detection, Organ monitoring and other General health monitoring via localized or personal body sensor network are best examples of wireless sensor nodes in health applications.
Military Security: The military command, control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (C4ISRT) systems make wireless sensor networks an integral part of the military system. Military and battlefield security can be obtained using sensor network for monitoring forces, equipment and ammunition, battlefield surveillance, reconnaissance of opposing forces and terrain; targeting; battle damage assessment; and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) attack detection and reconnaissance.
Environmental Monitoring Sensor Systems:
The observation, forecasting and monitoring of various environmental variables distributed over large geographic reasons can be made easy with appropriate wireless sensor network systems. Detection of foreign chemical agents in water and air, and measuring the level of pollution; type, concentration and location of pollutants. Tracking movement of birds, insects, and animals specially those which need conservation accompanied by crops and livestock monitoring in research analysis can be conducted using intense deployment of precise sensor nodes. Other environmental factors that can be monitored, controlled and taken care of using sensors are forest fire detection, biocomplexity mapping of the environment, flood detection etc. CORIE – a prototype in Columbian river, and ALERT (Automated Local Evaluation in Real-time) – deployed by National Weather Service in the US are two best examples of sensor network applied to environmental monitoring.
Domestic Usage: Today, people are using almost all technology for their smarter accommodation and life style. Home automation and smart environment related with the living standard can be achieved using sensors. Automated and intelligent electric and other home appliances have already been in practice in highly developed cities.
Smart Planet & Smart Energy via Sensor Networks:
Ultimately intelligible environment and the interaction can be built using completely sensor embedded environment whether in a small or a large area. Interactive museum, interactive toys, interactive environment and whole lot of smart interaction with human can be achieved using sensor networks. This has been the work of IBM and many other big companies worldwide to monitor and control environment, cities, homes and other citizen or consumer services giving it a great possibility of the Smarter Planet.
For smart energy concept using sensor networks, societal-scale of sensor network can greatly improve efficiency of energy-provision chain, which consists of trio-components like energy-generation, distribution, and consumption infrastructure. This brings in reduction of unnecessary energy wastage via intelligence of sensor nodes.
Commercial Usage: Sensors can be deployed to automate works in industries and large scale commercial activities like monitoring material fatigue in structure, building virtual keyboards, managing inventory, monitoring product quality, constructing smart office spaces, robotic automated manufacturing environment, and machine diagnosis. In recent days, many people are using sensors for detecting and monitoring car thefts.
Habitat Monitoring Sensor Network Applications:
Biocomplexity mapping finds Sensor Networks as an important driver application where in tiered architecture that optimizes energy efficiency of mobile or stationary sensor nodes should be best adopted. Also design goals of habitat monitoring should consider optimal hardware, local processing like compressing and filtering of only needed data, MAC and topology control, data aggregation, data-centric routing and storage. Great Duck Island (GDI) System monitored by Intel Research lab, and PODS a remote ecological micro-sensor networks are best examples of habitat monitoring sensor networks.
Based on these applicable areas as seen today, we are sure to come across many possibilities in future, so SN will likely be integral part of our everyday lives.