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Wireless sensor networks use battery-operated computing and sensing devices. A network of these devices will, collaborate for a common application such as environmental monitoring. The authors expect sensor networks to be deployed in an ad hoc fashion, with individual nodes remaining largely inactive for long periods of time, but then becoming suddenly active when something is detected. These characteristics of sensor networks and applications motivate a MAC that is different from traditional wireless MACs such as IEEE 802.11 in almost every way: energy conservation and self-configuration are primary goals, while per-node fairness and latency are less important.
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