Sensor Networks @ URI


Motes at Great Duck Island

You may have read or heard about wireless sensor networks or “smart dust” in the popular media. Recent advances in hardware have made it possible to design tiny computers with two key features: sensors that measure environmental properties, and radios that can communicate readings over a wireless network. These computers – often called “motes” – are roughly 1 by 2 inches in size and run on two AA batteries. Standard sensors include light, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure sensors, as well as microphones, accelerometers, and magnetometers. Sensors for soil moisture, leaf wetness, wind speed & direction, and a rain gauge may also be available. For communications, each computer has a radio with a broadcast range of approximately 150 feet. The computers autonomously form a wireless network that can report readings to one or more base stations.

Several universities have already embarked on projects to test this technology in real environments. UC Berkeley deployed a network of nearly 200 nodes on Great Duck Island in Maine to monitor the habitat of the Leach's Storm Petrel. UCLA and the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing has scattered sensors throughout the James Reserve in California to measure numerous environmental variables. Additional applications have supported structural monitoring, tracking moving objects, and target localization.

About us

Mica2 Kit

Our research group in the URI Computer Science Department has been funded by the NSF to study real-time data distribution in sensor networks. The lead faculty, Drs. Lisa DiPippo and Victor Fay-Wolfe, have many years of experience in distributed real-time systems. For information on Dr. DiPippo's and Dr. Fay-Wolfe's previous work, see the RTDOC website.

Our work-in-progress involves developing network algorithms for sensor networks. We are currently implementing medium access control and routing protocols for network-wide dissemination.

We have a small development kit in-house (pictured right) for testing programs on mote hardware. In addition, we have access to larger testing facilties at other universities.


We are seeking organizations on campus that might have interest in applications of sensor network technology. Specifically, we would like to collaborate with colleagues who require sensor monitoring applications, and work with them to deploy testbed networks. We are also interested in finding or applying for collaborative funding in the sensor networks area.


The following people are involved in our research efforts. The primary contact for the research group is staff member David Tucker. You can email him at or drop by office 138 in Tyler Hall.

Victor Fay-WolfeProfessor
Lisa DiPippoAssistant Professor
Timothy HenryLecturer
David TuckerTechnical Staff
Matthew MurphyTechnical Staff
Kevin BryanTechnical Staff
Jie MaoGraduate Student
Tim RenGraduate Student
Wallace ZhangGraduate Student
Shaun JosephGraduate Student
Will DayUndergraduate Student

Acknowledgment and Disclaimer

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0410130.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.