Bridging the gap between wireless sensor networks and the scientists who use them

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A new, simpler programming language for wireless sensor networks is designed for easy use by geologists who might use them to monitor volcanoes and biologists who rely on them to understand birds’ nesting behaviors, for example. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University have written the language with the novice programmer in mind.

"Most existing programming languages for wireless sensor networks are a nightmare for nonprogrammers," said Robert Dick, associate professor in the U-M Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "We’re working on ways to allow the scientists who actually use the devices to program them reliably without having to hire an embedded systems programming expert."

Finding an embedded systems expert to program a sensor network is difficult and costly and can lead to errors because the person using the network is not the person programming it, Dick said. The cost and disconnect associated with the situation means these networks aren’t being used to their full potential.

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