Embedded WiSeNts

Embedded WiSeNts - Project FP6-004400



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Today's technical systems are becoming more and more complex. While in former times, individual entities might often have sufficed to efficiently control such a system, the growing system complexity necessitates the cooperation of individual entities. This is particularly true for embedded systems. Embedded systems are characterized by their very need to interact with the environment. This interaction can take place in the form of sensing as well as actuation. Because of system complexity, isolated entities can no longer perform this interaction efficiently or reach the required control objectives. Hence, even in the interaction with, exploration of and control of the environment, cooperation between individual entities becomes a necessity, jointly controlling and influencing the physical processes in large-scale systems. Wireless sensor networks are one typical example of such cooperation. Such networks consist of objects, individually capable of simple sensing, actuation, communication, and computation, but only by cooperation the full capabilities of such networks is reached. More generally, these networks can cooperate themselves with other individual, intelligent objects, other networks, other controllers, or even users via proper interfaces. While these "cooperating objects" represent a potentially disruptive technology, the concrete realization of this vision is still unclear. This clarification is the essential goal of the coordination action proposed here. We intend to explore the actual needs of manufacturers and appliers of this technology as well as the ensuing, most challenging research issues; to identify road blockers for progress; to present a roadmap how these road blockers can be removed; and to foster teaching and education to form a basis for future research.



A number of different system concepts have become apparent in the broader context of embedded systems over the past couple of years. First, there is the classic concept of embedded systems as mainly a control system for some physical process (machinery, automobiles, etc.). Second, more recently, the notion of pervasive and ubiquitous computing has evolved, where objects of everyday use can be endowed with some form of computational capacity, and perhaps with some simple sensing and communication facilities. Third and most recently, the idea of "wireless sensor networks" has arisen, where entities that sense their environment are not operating individually, but collaborate together to achieve a well-defined purpose of supervision of some area, some particular process, etc. We claim that these three types of actually quite diverse, state of the art systems on the one hand share some principal commonalities and, on the other hand, have some complementary aspects in common that make a combination of these systems into a coherent system vision promising. In particular, the important notions of control, heterogeneity, wireless communication, dynamics/ad hoc nature, and cost are prevalent to various degrees in each of these concepts.

This new vision has a very deep impact on the research landscape, and it is not clear how to best approach it in a coordinated, efficient way. Hence, we propose the present Coordination Action. We see the need to achieve three main goals, having a short-term, middle-term, and long-term impact, respectively:

This three-pronged approach will allows us to best prepare the European research community for working towards the broad vision of cooperating objects

1. Supporting the integration of existing research

2. Road mapping for technology adoption

3. Promoting excellence in teaching and training on systems of cooperating objects



An important result of our work will be to increase the awareness of this technology within the academic community and, most importantly, within the industrial producer and user community. The resulting strategic impact will be that the options and the potential for the use of Embedded WiSeNts technologies will be available to selected decision makers in academia and industry.
The practical impact will be both on the manufacturers of such devices, providing them required information on the type of devices that will be required in the future as well as incorporating their feedback on technical feasibility, enabling these manufacturers to lead the market in the production of the required technology. The impact also be on the adopters of such devices and the system concept of cooperating objects more generally, allowing them to form an understanding of the possibilities, market chances, product options, possible services surrounding this concept etc., again contributing to and ensuring decisive European competitiveness advantages. As a consequence, the introduction of cooperating objects in actual products will be hastened and overall efficiency will be improved.

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