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A low-power, sensor system developed at the University of Michigan is 1,000 times smaller than comparable commercial counterparts. It could enable new biomedical implants. Photo: Daeyeon KimEE Times featured Michigan Engineering wireless sensor network technology on its list of 20 hot technologies to watch in 2012.

The magazine listed wireless sensor networks at No. 2 and highlighted work by David Blaauw and Dennis Sylvester, professors in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The researchers built the world's smallest sensor (in 2010), as well as the first true millimeter-scale full computing system (in 2011).

"Our work is unique in the sense that we're thinking about complete systems in which all the components are low-power and fit on the chip. We can collect data, store it and transmit it," Blaauw said. "The applications for systems of this size are endless."

Nearly invisible millimeter-scale systems that fit on a pen tip could enable ubiquitous computing. And that, the researchers say, is the next electronics frontier.

Wireless sensor networks could one day track pollution, monitor structural integrity, perform surveillance, or make virtually any object smart and trackable.

Sylvester and Blaauw have spun this technology out through the U-M start-up Ambiq Micro.

Article topics: Millimeter-Scale Computing

About Michigan Engineering: The University of Michigan College of Engineering is one of the top engineering schools in the country. Eight academic departments are ranked in the nation's top 10 -- some twice for different programs. Its research budget is one of the largest of any public university. Its faculty and students are making a difference at the frontiers of fields as diverse as nanotechnology, sustainability, healthcare, national security and robotics. They are involved in spacecraft missions across the solar system, and have developed partnerships with automotive industry leaders to transform transportation. Its entrepreneurial culture encourages faculty and students alike to move their innovations beyond the laboratory and into the real world to benefit society. Its alumni base of more than 75,000 spans the globe.

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