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Wireless sensor networks promise an unprecedented potential for observing the physical world. Their battery life, however, is usually the bottleneck that limits application lifetime, a problem that is exacerbated by the disparity between the rapidly growing processing speed and the slowly improving battery capacity. The authors observed the importance of this problem in their first-hand experiences: during the involvement in two large-scale sensor network deployments, VigilNet, and EnviroMic, energy is the primary concern in the development and deployment of applications. Their experiences with these projects motivate them to consider the central role that energy plays in the design and implementation of software stacks for wireless sensor networks, including not only the design choices of protocols but also the overall system architecture.
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