Categories: Computer Stuffs

What is Smart Dust? Advantages & Disadvantages

Smart Dust devices are small wireless microelectromechanical sensors (MEMS) that can detect everything from light to vibrations. It is a tiny dust size device with extraordinary capabilities. It encompasses a nano-structured silicon sensor that can spontaneously assemble, orient sense, and report on their local environment. This new technology combines sensing, computing, wireless communication capabilities, and autonomous power supply within the volume of only a few millimeters. It is very hard to detect the presence of the Smart Dust and it is even harder to get rid of them once deployed. Smart Dust is useful in monitoring real-world phenomena without disturbing the original process.

Also Read: Domain Name System

The Key Components of Smart Dust


  • A semiconductor laser diode and MEMS beam steering mirror for active optical transmission
  • Corner Cube Retroreflector(CCR) for passive optical transmission
  • Photodetector and receiver
  • An optical receiver
  • A signal processing and control circuitry
  • A power source based on thick film batteries and solar cells.

Construction Of Smart Dust


The new trend of the 21st century is to provide the best adaptive features to the user in small packages as much as possible. This same trend is being followed in electronics technology and the enhanced features are being provided in smaller and smaller electronic devices. An example of this technology trend is electronic motes. These are so small and light in weight that they can remain suspended in the environment like an ordinary dust particle. Even the air currents can also move them in the direction of flow. The main features of motes are:

  • Support the collection and integration of data from a variety of miniature sensors.
  • Analyze the sensor data as specified by system-level controls. Wirelessly communicate the results of their analyses to other motes, system base stations, and the internet as specified by system automation.
  • Motes are also sometimes referred to as smart dust. One mote is composed of a small, low powered and cheap computer connected to several sensors and a radio transmitter capable of forming ad hoc networks. The computer monitors the different sensors in a mote. These sensors can measure light, acceleration, position, stress, pressure, humidity, sound, and vibration. Data gathered are passed on to the radio link for transmission from mote to mote until data reaches the transmission node.

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Working Principle of Smart Dust


Smart Dust motes are run by microcontrollers. These microcontrollers consist of tiny sensors for recording various types of data. Timers are used to run these sensors. These sensors do the job of collecting the data. The data obtained are stored in its memory for further interpretations. It can also be sent to the base controlling stations.

CCR, which comprises three mutually perpendicular mirrors of gold-coated polysilicon, has the property that any incident ray of light is reflected back to the source provided that is incident within a certain range of angles centered about the cube’s body diagonal. The microfabricated CCR includes an electrostatic actuator that can deflect one of the mirrors at the kilohertz rate. Hence, the external light source can be transmitted back in the form of the modulated signal at kilobits per second. It can transmit to the bus only when the CCR body diagonal happens to point directly towards the bits, within a few tens of degrees

Also Read: 3-dimensional printing

Although a passive transmitter can be made more omnidirectional by employing several CCR”s oriented in different directions, at the expense of increased dust mote size.

Advantages of Smart Dust

There are the following main advantages to using Smart Dust.

For an industry:

  • Improving safety, efficiency, and compliance
  • Reducing system and infrastructure costs
  • Increasing productivity

For farmers or farming purpose:

  • Detecting the needs of the crop resulting in better fertilization management.
  • It gives farmers better management of time.
  • Reduction of inputs and Increase of outputs resulting in an increase in productivity.

For  factories and plants:

  • It automates many manual error-prone tasks that involve calibration and monitoring.
  • Provide accurate data on motor health in order to perform more timely maintenance when needed
  • Detection of  corrosion in aging pipes before they leak

For  an office environment:

  • It  eliminates  wired routers entirely and replacing them with a single Smart Dust chip which would handle all hardware and software functions for distributed networks, using five times less power than conventional networks
  • Smart Dust nodes can even be equipped with GPS receivers. Can be used to track the movements of visitors as they roam around the office to see if they are going to any restricted locations.
For military purpose:
  • A military application like monitoring activities in inaccessible areas, accompany soldiers and alert them to any poisons or dangerous biological substances in the air.
  • Security and Tracking
  • In the military, they can perform as a remote sensor chip to track enemy movements, detect poisonous gas or radioactivity.

There are many other smart dust applications apart from these.

Disadvantages of Smart Dust


There are a number of advantages of Smart Dust. But it also has a negative side too. Although the disadvantages seem much minor as compared with their advantages. But still, it is important to take them into consideration. These are:

Privacy Issue

One of the major disadvantages of Smart Dust is the privacy issue for organizations using it. Detecting even the most subtle changes, Smart Dust leaves little to the imagination. Smart Dust is a miniature sensors. They can record whatever you want them to record. Because this new technology is so small, people are scared that they would be spied on by companies.

That brings the main disadvantage to any company that would use Smart Dust. They would have to advise everybody who is part of the study or experiment. It could also bring ethical issues. For example, which employees would you let analyze the data that the sensors are giving and what information would they have access to. Privacy is likely going to be an ongoing and difficult debate in the coming years, and Smart Dust may be right at its center.

 Cost

Although Smart Dust is gaining popularity in many fields, it remains costly to implement such a system in an organization. The little chips themselves saw their prices go down by a lot in recent years, however, implementing all the satellites and other elements needed may cost a company a lot of money.

Do share your feedback on Smart Dust. Don’t Forget To Share It with your friends and subscribe to our email newsletter for more such updates. If you have any questions let us know in the comment section below.

Mohit Arora

Hi, I am Mohit Arora, a passionate blogger and addicted reader. You can check my another blog TutorialsJar where I share programming tutorials. You can connect with me on Instagram Or Quora And Linkedin as well. Subscribe to CatchUpdates feed via RSS

View Comments

  • i see nothing good about this, this is going to have the ability to take away free will, us all having a puppet master of sorts, this is scary, Lord help us all

  • I have an unknown amount of SMART DUST in my body and other technology in my stomach. No one believes me because it is so small no one can see it with the naked eye. They can't see it on x-ray or mri. Is their anything that can detect SMART DUST and then have it removed from your body? PLEASE HELP ME!

  • HI,
    RESPECTED SIR,
    THIS IS GREAT TECHNOLOGY, BUT SOME MIGHTY CORRUPT PEOPLE /GANG MISUSE
    THIS NANO TECHNOLOGY FOR HARRASEMENT AND MONEY EXTORTION TO INNOCENT PEOPLE.
    SIR, HOW CAN DETECT ? THIS NANO SMART DUST. AND HOW CAN WE STOP IT?
    IS THERE ANY DEVICE TO IDENTIFIED ? SO THAT WE CAN TAKE SOME LEGAL ACTION ON MIUSING SUCH PEOPLE. PLEASE KINDLY SUGGEST- ITS IS HELP TO SAVE INNOCENT PEOPLE/FAMILY. IN THE BEST INTERST OF OUR NATION TO CONTROL CORRUPTION IN EACH AND EVERY FIELD.
    PLEASE REPLY ME.
    THANKS
    PRAKASH BHAGWANBHAI PATIL

  • So does this mean that these small particles can be ingested into human bodies? If so can these act as the RFID chip? Can these foreign entities cause cancer? How will they interact with the 5g network?

  • "nano structured silicon sensors"...

    Great, does that mean MORE nano plastic particules in our environment? Then, please, people who are going to work on the topic, please think about using all the existing plastic particles already polluting our seas, the air we breathe, etc. and perhaps use them to track the depollution of our natural environment. This planet is going to be overwhelmed by plastic if even 'innovative' technologies are contributing to the disaster.

  • Please tell me this is hoax, a joke anything, because if it is not, this is a nightmare waiting to happen.
    How can such a thing even be legal?

  • Hiii sir,
    could me please tell me the possibility of using the smart dust in low cost smart agricultural systems???? If so where it has to be placed? whether it has to be spreaded just as a dust over the field or by any other means? if it is spreaded over the field then how can the chip sustain from soil erosion, water overflow or from other disasters?

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