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07_XBee_solar_photo_1.jpg

(image of solar-powered 802.15.4 node from Tom Igoe’s Making Things Talk)

The Christian Science Monitor has an article on wireless sensor networks being used to sense and gather data from the environment:

The hand-sized yellow objects poking up among the lush canopies at Camalie Vineyards aren’t a new variety of monster grape. They’re electronic devices that can sense soil moisture.

Viticulturist Mark Holler says these wireless sensors sprinkled throughout the leaves help him manage the high cost of irrigation and improve his yield.

“Wireless sensor networks extend the Internet … out into the environment,” says Mr. Holler, a retired Intel technologist who owns and runs the 4.4-acre vineyard in Napa, Calif.

While the networks won’t necessarily make someone a better vintner, they do have a practical side: During the 2007 drought in California, Holler figures the technology saved him several thousand dollars in water costs.

These networks are the same thing makers are building on the cheap. Tom Igoe’s Making Things Talk shows how you can use Arduinos, XBees, and a variety of off-the-shelf sensors to build your own inexpensive wireless sensor networks. (Use code 2009OX on checkout for a 10% discount for the week of January 26, 2009.)

Christian Science Monitor: New networks take nature’s pulse

Brian Jepson

I’m a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I’m not tinkering, I’m probably editing a book for Maker Media.


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