How Motes Work

The MICA2 Mote uses 2 AA batteries to provide power to the CPU/radio for up to a year. See more mote pictures.
Photo courtesy Crossbow Technology, Inc.

You may have heard about a computing concept known as motes. This concept is also called smart dust and wireless sensing networks. At one point, just about every issue of Popular Science, Discover and Wired today contains a blurb about some new application of the mote idea. For example, the military plans to use them to gather information on battlefields, and engineers plan to mix them into concrete and use them to internally monitor the health of buildings and bridges.

There are thousands of different ways that motes might be used, and as people get familiar with the concept they come up with even more. It is a completely new paradigm for distributed sensing and it is opening up a fascinating new way to look at computers.

In this article, you will have a chance to understand how motes work and see many of the possible applications of the technology. Then we will look at a MICA mote -- an existing technology that you can buy to experiment with this unique way of sensing the world.