McKay Lecture - March 5, 2008

Wireless Sensing Systems: From ecosystems to human systems

photo of Deborah Estrin Deborah Estrin
Director, Center for Embedded Networked Systems (CENS)

306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium)
4:00 - 5:00 pm


Miniaturization and Moore's law has enabled us to combine sensing, computation and wireless communication in integrated, low-power devices, and to embed networks of these devices in the physical world. By placing sensing devices up close to the physical phenomena we are now able to study details in space and time that were previously unobservable. Looking back over the past few years we have made significant progress toward the vision of programmable, multi-modal, multi-scale observatories. At the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing we have made our greatest strides in these applications using: judicious application of server-side and in situ processing, mobility at multiple scales, and multi-scale data and models as context for in situ measurements. We are now applying these lessons learned and technical approaches to human as well as natural systems, in particular by exploring use of the installed base of image, location, and acoustic sensors that we all carry around in our pockets– mobile phones. In this talk I will draw upon experiences with pilots and prototypes at CENS.


Deborah Estrin (Ph.D. MIT, 1985; BSEE UCB, 1980) is a Professor of Computer Science, holds the Jon Postel Chair in Computer Networks, and is Founding Director of the NSF-funded Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS). CENS. mission is to explore and develop innovative, end-to-end, distributed sensing systems, from ecosystems to human systems. Estrin.s earlier work addressed Internet protocol design and scaling, in particular, inter-domain and multicast routing. Since the late 90.s her work has focused on multi-disciplinary, experimental-systems research as applied to a variety of environmental monitoring challenges. Most recently this work includes participatory-sensing systems, at the personal and community level, leveraging the location, acoustic, image, and attached-sensor data streams increasingly available from mobile phones.

Estrin chaired the 1998 ISAT study on sensor networks and the 2001 NRC study on Networked Embedded Computing which produced the report Embedded Everywhere. She served as a founding member of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Advisory board, and is currently a member of the NRC Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), and TTI/Vanguard. Estrin was selected as the first ACM-W Athena Lecturer in 2006, was awarded the Anita Borg Institute.s Women of Vision Award for Innovation in 2007, and was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.