Spray on sensors

A group of Scottish engineers have been awarded a £3.7 million Basic Technology Award to develop tiny “Specks” for low power sensor applications.


A group of Scottish engineers have been awarded a £3.7 million Basic Technology Award to develop tiny “Specks” for low power sensor applications.


The Speckled Computing Consortium, comprising of physicists, chemists, electrical engineers and computing scientists from the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Strathclyde, has been given the award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).


The tiny “Specks” themselves are very small sensors with computational and communications capabilities that can be embedded in various objects. They could be used as lighting and temperature sensors in buildings, placed in aircraft wings to detect failures or used to sensitise medicine bottles to ensure that people take their prescribed medication at the correct times.


Each Speck will be autonomous, with its own captive, renewable energy source. Thousands of Specks, scattered or sprayed on a person or surfaces, will collaborate in programmable computational networks called Specknets. Scientists are even considering the idea of a putting the devices in a spray-can, allowing the Specks to be sprayed onto a whatever surface they wish.


The Ultrafast Systems Group at the University of Glasgow, who have been rewarded £700k from the Basic Technology Award, is contributing ultra-low power radio and high efficiency solar cell technologies to the Consortium.


The four year award adds to £1.3M funding secured by the Consortium from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC) in July 2003.