This is the hope of the Intel Research Lab at the University of California at Berkeley and Agri-Food Canada. Wired News has the story.
Intel Research and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada -- Canada's version of the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- are using a wireless sensor network to measure air temperatures across a 50-acre vineyard in southern British Columbia.
Each palm-size sensor, called a mote, consists of a sensor board, a radio processor and two AA batteries. Hanging from trellises as close as 20 feet apart, the motes form an efficient, low-power wireless network that connects to a PC in the vineyard manager's office.
Radio signals hop from one mote to the next until they reach the manager's PC. The software running on the network's open-source operating system, TinyOS, selects the best transmission routes for the motes to use.
"The shortest physical distances, or the fewest hops, don't always make the best paths," said Anind Dey, senior researcher at the Intel Research Lab at the University of California at Berkeley. "We've developed algorithms that instead determine which paths will have the least signal loss, for example."
Not only the motes will help Don King, one co-owner of King Family Farms where the technology is developed, to optimize watering, they'll also help him to sleep better.
Until now, he's been fighting frost the old-fashioned way: by patrolling the vineyard at night with a lantern and a portable thermometer. "I used to grab a sleeping bag and sleep out in the cold spots with a thermometer and an alarm," he said. "It was really pretty primitive."
[The motes] will also help King choose the best moment to pick his grapes -- a process known as precision harvesting. A plant's total number of high- and low-temperature days determines whether its fruit will make a better Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or other wine.
A month ago, I was writing about Wireless Mesh Networks. Now, we have a real application -- and maybe finer wines.
Sources: Mark Baard, Wired News, April 4, 2003
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